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Why is TEMPOS an important tool for media professionals?

TEMPOS is the first tool that allows media professionals, public health officials, researchers, and suicide prevention experts to assess adherence to the recommended reporting guidelines with a user- friendly, standardized rating scale. The scale can be used to monitor changes in reporting over time and how reporting varies across articles, authors, and publications.

Research has shown that media representations of suicide can influence suicidal behavior on a massive scale, a phenomenon known as media-influenced suicide contagion. Suicide rates tend to increase following media reports of a celebrity death by suicide or other widely covered suicide event, suggesting media coverage can be a contributing factor to suicidal behavior. However, these events also serve as a valuable opportunity for the media to educate the public about reasons and risk factors for suicide and how to get help for those who may be struggling.

To help journalists cover suicide without substantially increasing risk for suicidal behavior, leading experts in the fields of suicide prevention, journalism, and mental health developed the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide, which are based in more than 50 international studies of suicide contagion. Research has found that media professionals can significantly reduce the risk of imitative suicide (also known as ‘copycat deaths’) by providing factual, non-speculative information, avoiding the use of sensational language and graphic detail, and disseminating mental health and suicide prevention resources.

Acknowledgements

TEMPOS was developed through a collaboration with the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department’s Suicide Prevention Program and the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ Media and Mental Health Initiative. The team is grateful to the many suicide prevention experts and media professionals who reviewed and offered improvements to the tool during its development, including:

Gabrielle Glaser
New York Times bestselling author
Investigative journalist

Madelyn S. Gould, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Irving Philips Professor of Epidemiology in Psychiatry
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
New York State Psychiatric Institute

Elena Kadvany
Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

Scott MacLeod
Co-Founder, The Sophie Fund
Former Correspondent and Bureau Chief for TIME magazine
Former Professor of Practice, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
American University in Cairo

Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Public Health
Head of the Suicide Research & Mental Health Promotion Unit
Medical University of Vienna

Jane Pirkis, Ph.D.
Professor of Mental Health
Director of the Centre for Mental Health
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
University of Melbourne

Daniel J. Reidenberg, Psy.D., FAPA
Executive Director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (Save)
Managing Director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention

Robert Salonga
Criminal Justice and Public Safety Reporter, The Mercury News