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Assessing the Quality of Media Reporting of Suicide Deaths in Bangladesh Against World Health Organization Guidelines

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000603

Abstract.Background: Media reporting of suicide events has thus far gone without sufficient scrutiny in Bangladesh. Aim: The purpose of this study was to assess the quality of newspaper reporting of suicides in Bangladesh against international guidelines. Methods: We used content analysis to assess the quality of suicide reporting in six daily newspapers in Bangladesh. The newspapers were hand-searched between November 2016 and April 2017 and 327 articles reporting on suicide deaths were retrieved. Results: The mean number of suicide articles per day per newspaper was 0.3 (range across newspapers 0.11–0.70) and the mean length was 11.3 sentences. Harmful reporting practices were very common (for example, a detailed suicide method was reported in 75.5% of articles) while almost no potentially helpful reporting practices were observed (for example, no articles gave contact details for a suicide support service). Limitations: The findings are limited to print mass media. Conclusions: We observed that explicit and simplistic reports of suicide deaths were frequently observed in newspapers in Bangladesh. Attempts should be made to understand the perspectives of media professionals in relation to suicide reporting, and to devise strategies to boost the positive contribution that media can make to suicide prevention in this context.

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