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Effect of Educative Suicide Prevention News Articles Featuring Experts With vs Without Personal Experience of Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Papageno Effect

J Clin Psychiatry 2019;80(1):17m11975
10.4088/JCP.17m11975

Objective: Media stories on how to cope with suicidal crises have been shown to reduce suicidal ideation, but studies investigating if effects differ depending on delivery by individuals with or without personal experience of suicidality are lacking. The present study aimed to examine effects of news articles featuring interviews with experts with vs without personal experience of suicidal ideation.

Methods: In a web-based, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial conducted in April and May 2017, a total of 545 adults recruited from the general population were randomly assigned to read a news article featuring an interview with a suicide expert disclosing personal experience of suicidal ideation, the same article without disclosure of personal experience, or an article unrelated to suicide. The primary outcome was change from baseline suicidal ideation score (assessed by a subscale of the Reasons for Living Inventory); the secondary outcome was change from baseline in a measure of suicide-preventionrelated knowledge (assessed by items from various questionnaires). Data from the 527 participants analyzed were collected using online questionnaires before and after exposure.

Results: Participants in the 2 intervention groups reported a decrease in suicidal ideation (Group 1 [article without personal experience of ideation]: P < .001, d = 0.16; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.07; Group 2 [with personal experience]: P < .001, d = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.33 to 0.16) and an increase in suicide-preventionrelated knowledge (Group 1: P < .001, d = 0.72; 95% CI, 0.64 to 0.81; Group 2: P < .001, d = 0.70; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.79) after article exposure. There were no differences between the 2 intervention groups.

Conclusions: Educative news articles featuring interviews with suicide prevention experts who disclose or do not disclose their personal experience of suicidality seem to be effective for suicide preventive education in the general public in accordance with the Papageno effect.

Trial Registration: German Clinical Trials Register, identifier: DRKS00015781​​​