[Skip to Navigation]
August 1970

Newspaper Influence on Suicide: A Controlled Study

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
From the University of California School of Medicine (San Francisco General Hospital), San Francisco.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;23(2):143-148. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01750020047006

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

Add or change institution