Assessing the use of media reporting recommendations by the world health organization in suicide news published in the most influential media sources in china, 2003–2015

Academic Article


  • Public media reports about suicide are likely to influence the population’s suicidal attempts and completed suicides. Irresponsible reports might trigger copycat suicidal behaviors, while responsible reports may help reduce suicide rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations to encourage responsible suicide reports in 2008. However, little is known about whether these recommendations are reflected in the suicide news for most countries, including China. In this study, we assessed the responsibility of suicide stories published in the most influential newspaper and Internet media sources in China from 2003 to 2015, using the media reporting recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO). In total, 3965 and 1836 eligible stories from newspaper and Internet-based media, respectively, were included in the study. Newspapers and Internet-based media performed similarly in applying WHO recommendations to report suicide news. Three recommendations were applied in over 88% of suicide stories. However, four recommendations were seldom applied, including offering information about where to seek help and linking the suicide event to mental disorders. Government and the journalism industry should work together to improve media reporting of news about suicide in China.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Chu X; Zhang X; Cheng P; Schwebel DC; Hu G
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 3