Glamorizing suicide makes it appear to be a viable option for somebody who wants fame or attention. When journalists do stories showing an outpouring of emotion, shock and love for the dead, it may plant the seed in a vulnerable person to grab their moment in the spotlight, too. After recent celebrity deaths involving Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, suicide hotline calls jumped 25 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal. Robin Williams’ death also may be linked to a rise in suicides.
The Chicago Tribune reported this copycat effect has been known for centuries. “The phenomenon of ‘suicide contagion’ or ‘copycat’ suicides is not new. Scientists often refer to it as the ‘Werther effect,’ referring to the 1774 novel ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ by German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. After publication of the book, whose lovelorn protagonist takes his own life, there occurred an extraordinary outbreak of similar suicides all over Europe. This was especially true of young men about the same age as Werther, and whose bodies were often found dressed in the same clothes the fictional Werther was wearing at the time of his death.”
Response: Help your readers/viewers/listeners understand that suicide is a painful, victimizing action. The American Association of Suicideology recommends that journalists:
Use objective, non-sensationalistic language to describe the suicide death. Exclude details about method, location, notes or photos from the scene. Focus on life of the person rather than the death and method.
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2019/reporting-on-suicide-consider-these-common-problems-and-their-solutions/