THE contention that curtailing newspaper reporting of suicides would serve as a suicide prevention measure was questioned in the 1967 report of a study that was unable to verify this in a systemic way.1 The problem was approached by using a given population as its own control, comparing its suicide rate during a period of essentially complete cessation of newspaper publication with its mean rate for the identical period in the preceding five years. No significant differences could be demonstrated by this method in seven large cities in the United States.
An opportunity for a closer look at this question was provided by the protracted newspaper blackout in the city of Detroit, from Nov 17, 1967 through Aug 10, 1968. This 268-day period, the longest complete suspension of publication in a major metropolitan area in newspaper history, greatly decreases the error inherent in data obtained during the relatively short
Motto JA. Newspaper Influence on Suicide: A Controlled Study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;23(2):143–148. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01750020047006
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