Digital Media and Youth Suicide: Analysis of Media Reporting on “Blue Whale” Case
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Universidad de Navarra
SuicideMedia electronicYouth mental healthContent analysisInternetSpain
Sánchez-Muros, P. S. & Jiménez Rodrigo, M. L. (2021). Digital Media and Youth Suicide: Analysis of Media Reporting on “Blue Whale” Case. Communication & Society, 34(3), 117-133. [https://doi.org/10.15581/003.34.3.117-133]
The media play an important role in suicide prevention, which has led to the development of media guidelines for reporting on suicides. Engagement with such recommendations is analysed here. A case study has been conducted of the “Blue Whale Challenge,” an Internet “game” related to self-harm among adolescents, and the public alarm triggered by the related media coverage. Quantitative and qualitative content analysis was carried out of the news stories published in Spain by the mainstream digital media in 2017. The findings indicate the widespread presence of malpractice (sensationalist language and detailed descriptions of methods), which may contribute to copycatting and indicate poor compliance with international guidelines on best practice (such as providing information on reliable and contextualised help resources available). These results underscore the importance of including the role and function of the media in the prevention of this public health problem.