It appears that suicide reporting in Austria both distorts reality and endorses gender stereotypes, potentially making suicide attempts more common. The Medical University of Vienna has investigated over 500 articles from Austrian newspapers containing the word ‘suicide’ from 1997 to 2005, in a study which is the first of its kind.
Articles which reported suicide in women focussed more on the social relationships and attachments to close friends or family, psychiatric illnesses were also discussed in these articles in a stigmatising manner. Strikingly, the articles on men focus only on emotions of aggression and rejection, setting up a very conservative view of problems that males and females experience or the reasons for their actions.
What’s more, mental illness is not mentioned in articles which refer to suicidal men. This means that whilst mental illness is under-represented by not exploring the cases in males, the stigmatising manner in which it is described in female oriented articles minimises the idea of prevention by a healthy mental state.
The researchers, Brigitte Eisenwort et al. believe that this reporting manner is reinforcing very problematic and stereotypical sex roles, which are already a problem in Austria, and could be increasing the suicide attempt rate.
Despite this study being recent, the articles investigated are almost all over 10 years old which will obviously affect the findings of the experiment. Though important and striking things have been found, a study of more recent newspapers could be key in understanding the current state of gender stereotyping and its effect on suicide rates.