Suicide, social media and newsroom taboos: How new media are changing the way suicides are reported.

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Campion-Smith, Bruce




Almost 4,000 Canadians kill themselves annually but few suicides merit news coverage because of long-standing newsroom policies and attitudes. These policies are shaped by recommendations from mental health professionals who say the publicity around one suicide can trigger copycat acts. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide new venues for journalists to learn about suicides and glean personal details of the deceased. A review of the media coverage of the suicides of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd and Jamie Hubley shows that information published on social media influenced how journalists reported on these deaths. Through interviews with journalists and mental health professionals, this thesis examines changing societal attitudes to mental health and suicide and implications for media coverage. It concludes that social media is changing the reporting of suicides and that guidelines meant to influence such reporting remain important to help deter copycat acts, provided they respect journalistic integrity.


Mental Health




Carleton University

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Master of Journalism: 

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Theses and Dissertations

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