This course discusses suicide and contains headlines and images from news reports on suicide that can be disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please know help is available. Contact your physician, your local hospital emergency room, or a suicide prevention hotline, or text line as shown on the screen. These help lines can provide free and confidential support 24-7. Hi everyone. I'm Holly Wilcox. We're here today to talk about why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified media as a key partner in reducing suicide. Here with us is Dr. Asha Ivey Stephenson. Asha, would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Sure. Well, thank you so much for having me. As you just stated, Asha Ivey Stephenson is my name. I am one of the senior behavioral scientists and epidemiologists. I sit on the suicide prevention team in our division of injury prevention at CDC. What is preventing suicide a technical package of policy programs and practices? Let me first begin with answering a question that we often receive, which is a subset of that. What is a technical package? A technical package is really a compilation of a core set of strategies that are designed to achieve and sustain substantial reductions in a specific risk factor or outcome. In this case, suicide is the outcome that we're talking about. Suicide for technical package, also known as preventing suicide, a technical package of policies, programs, and practices. This is a select group of strategies based upon the best available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities with the greatest potential to prevent suicide. We have strategies that include strengthening economic supports, strengthening access and delivery of suicide care, creating protective environments, promoting connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, identifying and supporting people at risk, and last but not least, lessening harms and preventing future risks. These strategies in the technical package include a focus on preventing the risk of suicide in the first place, as well as approaches to lessen the immediate and long-term harms of suicidal behavior at the individual, family, community, and societal level. These strategies also support the goals and objectives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and the National Action Alliance Suicide Prevention's priority, specifically for strengthening community-based prevention. Our commitment, cooperation and leadership from numerous sectors, including public health, education, justice, health care, etc, and very importantly, the media, collaboration from these sectors can really bring about successful implementation of this particular package. Why has the CDC technical package identified responsible reporting by the media as one of the key approaches or interventions for lessening harm in preventing future suicide risk? How did the agency come to this decision? Well, let me begin with answering the second question regarding how our agency came to that decision. To be considered for inclusion in the technical package, the program practice or policy selected had to meet at least one of four criteria, including a rigorous study design with outcomes on suicide, suicide attempts or risk and protective factors for suicide. Consideration was also given to the likelihood of achieving beneficial effects on multiple forms of violence. No evidence of harmful effects on specific outcomes or with particular subgroups, as well as feasibility of implementation in a US context if the program, policy, or practice had been evaluated in another country. Now let me hop back to your first question regarding why responsible reporting by the media is identified as one of the key approaches for lessening harms and preventing future suicide risk. Despite often good intentions, media and others responding to suicide may add to the risk inadvertently. For example, research suggests that exposure to sensationalized or glamorized reporting on suicide may heighten the risk of suicide among vulnerable individuals who may be thinking about suicide. This can inadvertently contribute to what is known as suicide contagion. One way that we talk about ensuring safe reporting and messaging about suicide is to encourage news media to share and adhere to recommendations for reporting on suicide. A website that you're probably familiar with but it's www.reportingonsuicide.org. To expand a little bit more, the most compelling evidence supporting these recommendations comes actually from Austria. After a sharp increase in suicides on the Leonese subways, media guidelines were introduced as a study, and a study was conducted to evaluate the national impact of those guidelines and subsequent suicides. Changes in the quality and quantity of media reporting actually resulted in a nationwide significant reduction of suicides annually. Finally, research suggests that not only does reporting on suicide in a negative way such as describing or depicting the method and location of the suicide, this can have harmful effects on suicide but reporting on positive coping skills in the face of adversity can also demonstrate protective effects against suicide. This protective effect has been termed the Papageno effect. Reports describing, "mastery of suicide crisis," where adversities were overcome were associated with significant decreases in suicide rates in the time period immediately following those reports. What are some other steps journalists should take? Well, safe reporting and messaging about suicide are mentioned in the technical package as one of the approaches to advance the strategy of lessening harms and preventing future risks. Again, I want to emphasize that the manner in which information on a recent suicide is communicated to the public. For example, at school assemblies or via mass media or social media, that communication can heighten the risk of suicide among, again, vulnerable individuals and can inadvertently contribute to suicide contagion. To counter this, there are some strategies to reduce risks such as reporting that includes suicide prevention messages, stories of hope and resilience, particular mentions of the multiple factors that are associated with suicide as well as links to helping resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also talk about reporting that avoids, as I mentioned before, sensationalizing events or reducing suicides to one cause, because we know it's multi-factorial. All of this to help reduce the likelihood of suicide contagion. As I mentioned earlier, one way to ensure safe reporting is to encourage news media to adhere to those recommendations, that's that website reporting on suicide.org. If you haven't taken a look, a few of those specific recommendations include things like avoid describing or depicting the method and location of the suicide. Instead, we suggest report the death as a suicide and keep information about the location general. Another example is avoid sharing the content of a suicide note instead report that the note was found and it is under review. Another couple of examples, avoid oversimplifying or speculating on one reason for the suicide. Instead, describe suicide risk factors. For example, a relationship problems, job financial problems, health problems, history of mental illness that give suicide context. Then avoid sensationalizing details in the actual headline or story. More specifically, it's better not to include suicide in the headline or glamorized a death such as maybe a title, star athlete commits suicide. That's something that we don't want to put out there. Instead, if you can report on the death using facts and language, that are sensitive to a grieving family. There's a few additional items from that checklist. Again, this is all in the website, but it's really important to report suicide as a public health issue. We really hope that resources at minimum include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number, which is 1-800-273-8255. Also, there are crisis text line, which can be reached by texting home to 741741 or any of the local crisis phone numbers. Each of these resources can connect users with a crisis counselor. Another item on the checklist, using appropriate language, for example, avoiding terms like, committed suicide. Successful or unsuccessful suicide, or failed attempt. Instead using language like, died by suicide or killed him or herself. We really encourage emphasizing hope and help. As an expert, one of the things that we get a lot of media inquiries and for fact checking. It's really helpful to ask an expert, interviewing suicide prevention experts to actually validate your facts on suicide risk. Again, that website reportingonsuicide.org has all of this in there, but just to give you a little bit of snapshot. If successfully implemented, how large of an impact could responsible reporting practices among the media have on suicide prevention nationally? Well, in short, responsible reporting practices among media can have a significant impact on suicide prevention nationally. Earlier I mentioned that some of the most compelling evidence supporting adherence to those recommendations for reporting on suicide came from Austria. So, changes in the quality and quantity of media reporting resulted in that significant nationwide reduction in suicides annually. I also want to take a moment to emphasize and reiterate that safe reporting on suicide is not just about what not to report on. For example, reporting on suicide myths and repetition, just as important, is encouraging reporting of a positive coping skills in the face of adversity, which can demonstrate protective effects against suicide. Responsible reporting when combined with other strategies and approaches included in CDC's technical package. These could have a greater impact. We say these strategies and approaches are intended to work in combination and reinforce each other to prevent suicide. If you think about it together, the strategies and approaches can reduce suicide risk for suicide at those different levels. Individual, relationship, community, and societal. Lastly, CDC emphasizes the need for a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention. This is including things like using data, partnerships, the best available evidence to prevent suicide and promote resilience. Media reporting that shares stories of hope and resilience and that provides suicide prevention resources can save lives. Thank you so much Dr. Ivy Stevenson for taking the time to speak with us today. Thank you for having me. This course discusses suicide and contains headlines and images from news reports on suicide that can be disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please know help is available. Contact your physician, your local hospital emergency room or a suicide prevention hotline or text line as shown on the screen. These help lines can provide free and confidential support. 24/7.