Taylor's FSLM Journals
Media reporting of suicide: A comparative framing analysis of Malaysian newspapers

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

*Justin Victor, Jenny Heng Gek Koon, G. Manickam Govindaraju, Tan Poh Ling, Usha Devi Rajaratnam & Yang Lai Fong


In the next ten years, suicide cases will emerge as the second highest cause of death in Malaysia (MOH). The World Health Organization cautions that media coverage of suicide could heighten the incidences of suicide or generate a protective effect by responsible media reporting. In light of the role of media, and how the reach of mainstream articles gets amplified through new media, the need to study suicide reports is imperative. This study employed a framing analysis on suicide-related articles that were published in the The Star, Kosmo, Sin Chiew Daily and Malaysia Nanban, each being the largest circulating publications in their respective languages, and representative of major ethnic groups in Malaysia. Suicide news articles for a 5-year period from 2013-2018 were studied to ascertain whether they add to suicide contagion or instead educate and raise the awareness of the public. It was found that most of the reporting were objective but included details of the methods of the suicide. Only very few articles mentioned where and how to get help. This indicates a need for journalist to be more aware of suicide reporting guidelines and adhere to them. Additionally there was a marked difference in the number of articles that emerged in the period with The Star and Sin Chiew Daily having the highest and Kosmo, the lowest. These difference raise questions for further research into ethnic and cultural differences that influence such reporting.

Keywords: framing, suicide coverage, content analysis, newspapers, comparative analysis