Canberra Professor Discusses Guidelines For Media Coverage of Suicide, Mental Illness

Dr. R. Warwick Blood, professor of Communication at the University of Canberra in Australia, discussed governmental guidelines for coverage of suicide and mental illness while visiting the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research in May.

Dr. Blood said there is considerable concern in Australia that reports of suicide in the media lead to imitation. As a result, the government has issued a reporting kit that recommends, among other things, that the media avoid "overly explicit descriptions, photographs or video of the method and location" in stories about suicide.

Dr. Blood is part of a research team that is evaluating media coverage of suicide. The information the team assembles will be used in revisions of the media kit.

Dr. Blood attended the International Communication Association conference in Washington in early May, where he gave a report on his research, and came to the University of Georgia before returning home. He outlined his research project in an informal presentation in the Cox Center.

Attending the presentation were Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication doctoral students and Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker and Dr. Tudor Vlad, a visiting research scientist in the Center.

The May visit was the second by Dr. Blood to the Cox Center. He gave a lecture at the Grady College in the autumn of 1997 on risk communication. Dr. Blood and Dr. Becker were colleagues together at the Ohio State University and have collaborated on research on a number of topics.