Suicide has long been a tricky topic to cover. Sensationalized and poor coverage of suicide raises the risk of a contagion effect — other people being inspired to take their lives. Studies have found that copycat suicides rise following coverage of a single suicide incident, especially involving a celebrity.
But the problem, especially how it is tied to firearms, needs to be covered. When done carefully and thoughtfully, good journalism can dispel myths, help improve public awareness and understanding of the complexities of suicide and even encourage people to seek help.
South Los Angeles residents joined a lineup of local leaders at a rally on July 13, 2018. People in attendance left pairs of shoes in the street to represent family and friends who were killed by guns. Photo by Luke Harold | Public domain
Firearm violence is a complex problem that devastates families and communities — tens of thousands of people are killed or injured in a shooting every year across the country. In 2021, the U.S. surpassed 48,000 deaths from firearm injuries, the worst year on record.
A shooting is not only devastating for victims and their loved ones; the trauma reverberates throughout the community, heightens the risk of more violence and costs local, state and federal governments billions of dollars.