April 20, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Media are invited to attend a free session during the Suicide Prevention Conference on May 1 to learn about media best practices and resources for appropriate reporting of suicide deaths. 

The OSU Harding Behavioral Health’s Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will host the daylong conference at the Ohio Union Performance Hall, 1739 N. High Street in Columbus.

The second annual suicide prevention conference, “From Surviving to Thriving: Building Resilience and Preventing Suicide in Ohio,” is a statewide symposium focused on strategies, advancements and outcomes regarding suicide prevention. 

Madelyn Gould, professor in psychiatry and epidemiology and deputy director of Research Training in Child Psychiatry at Columbia University, New York, will lead the discussion on recommendations for reporting on suicide. Gould has received numerous federally funded grants for studies examining risk factors for teenage suicide, various aspects of cluster suicides and the impact of the media on suicide. She also received a Distinguished Investigator Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to investigate the role of the media in the initiation of suicide clusters.

Gould will also discuss how media coverage of suicide can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion or positively by encouraging help-seeking. Suicide contagion or “copycat suicide” occurs when one or more suicides are reported in a way that contributes to another suicide. 

Research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the method of suicide, sensationalizes or glamorizes a death, or uses dramatic or graphic headlines or images. Covering suicide carefully, even briefly, can change public misperceptions and correct myths, which can encourage those who are vulnerable to seek help, according to www.ReportingOnSuicide.org. 

Other conference speakers include:

David A. Jobes, suicidologist and professor and associate director of Clinical Training at Catholic University of America. 

• Dr. John Campo, chair, Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

To register to attend the media best practices session from 9:45 a.m. to noon on May 1, please contact Caitlin Willet at 614-688-7976 or Caitlin.Willet@osumc.edu. Media representatives are asked to contact Media Relations at 614-293-3737 to make arrangements to cover other conference sessions. 

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Media Contact: Eileen Scahill, Wexner Medical Center Media Relations, 614-293-3737, Eileen.Scahill@osumc.edu