We are living in the age of information. The development of technology in the last century resulted in a world where theoretically anyone can acquire any kind of information from any place. These pieces of knowledge exert great influence on how people feel, think and behave in a variety of everyday situations. Therefore, the means of passing information to the masses of people have significant effects on a number of social phenomena. One example of this is that the materials appearing in the media can increase or decrease the number of suicides and suicidal attempts depending on how the information is presented. In this essay, I will discuss the harmful effects of sensation-mongering, detailed descriptions of the act, inappropriate characterization of the perpetrator, and inadequate handling of important pieces of information. I will also highlight some potentialities of the media to take part in suicide prevention, e.g. through adequate reporting of suicidal deaths, educational programs, counseling columns, and the development of psychological culture.
To start with, sensation-mongering is the main characteristics of many television programs and most of the tabloids. The first-page coverage of a suicidal act directs the attention strongly to death as a possible way of solving one's problems. The information on the front page reaches those, too, who otherwise do not read what is inside that paper. The danger of this is that the information gets into the minds of a larger group of people, in which the number of those who are mentally vulnerable is larger, too. These people will spend more and more time with thinking of their own suicidal predispositions, and some of them might attempt to kill themselves, indeed. This is especially the case when the headlines are dramatic and the reportage is serialized. The fame of doubtful value that can be acquired in this way can also be an attractive force for those who struggle to reach it even at the expense of their lives.