We investigated the association of the intensity of newspaper reporting of charcoal burning suicide with the incidence of such deaths in Taiwan during 1998-2002. A counting process approach was used to estimate the incidence of suicides and intensity of news reporting. Conditional Poisson generalized linear autoregressive models were performed to assess the association of the intensity of newspaper reporting of charcoal burning and non-charcoal burning suicides with the actual number of charcoal burning and non-charcoal burning suicides the following day. We found that increases in the reporting of charcoal burning suicide were associated with increases in the incidence of charcoal burning suicide on the following day, with each reported charcoal burning news item being associated with a 16% increase in next day charcoal burning suicide (p<.0001). However, the reporting of other methods of suicide was not related to their incidence. We conclude that extensive media reporting of charcoal burning suicides appears to have contributed to the rapid rise in the incidence of the novel method in Taiwan during the initial stage of the suicide epidemic. Regulating media reporting of novel suicide methods may prevent an epidemic spread of such new methods.
- Mass Media