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The infantilization and stigmatization of suicide: a multi-modal analysis of British press reporting of the Bridgend suicides

Luce, Ann 2010. The infantilization and stigmatization of suicide: a multi-modal analysis of British press reporting of the Bridgend suicides. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Between January 2008 and June 2008 20 young people between the ages of 15 and 29 took their own lives in the South Wales Borough of Bridgend. In this study I examined a sample of both national and Welsh newspapers over this six-month period, employing both quantitative (content analysis) and qualitative (discourse analysis, interviews with journalists) methods to determine how the British press reports suicide and also to determine how journalists balance their social responsibility to report suicide with their role of maintaining stability in society. Emile Durkheim's framework for suicide and Edwin Shneidman's theory of "psychache" helped contextualise why suicide occurs, while Bob Franklin's, Stuart Allan's and Barbara Zelizer's theories of news constructions, framing and production processes helped further my argument about the press' responsibility to report responsibly while maintaining the status quo. My findings show that journalists created five key categories in which they could further stigmatize the issue of suicide: reaction to death by those left behind; reason for death; description of the deceased; infantilisation; and suicide and internet usage. These categories were summarily framed by questions around why suicide occurs and by ideologies of childhood. This study concludes that the most prevalent discourse around suicide is that it should never happen; people should die naturally, preferably in old age. To reinforce that discourse, journalists tend to deem all adult suicides to be childish acts and "other" those that die into a category of the "deviant non-child". It appears, then, that an overarching assumption underpinning press reports of suicide is that it is a destabilising force in liberal democratic society. As such, journalists play a significant role in maintaining balance and replicating acceptable discourses around the issue of suicide in this society

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:32

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