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Framing youth suicide in a multi-mediated world: the construction of the Bridgend problem in the British national press

Akrivos, Dimitrios (2015). Framing youth suicide in a multi-mediated world: the construction of the Bridgend problem in the British national press. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis is a case study of suicide reporting which investigates the contribution of the British national press to the construction of the Bridgend problem. It aims to provide an insight into journalists’ role in the ‘social problems game’ by assessing the level to which their post-2008 extensive Bridgend coverage rose concern over the issue and compelled an official response to it. To this end, the content of 451 relevant news reports was qualitatively analysed and in-depth interviews with 13 key claims-makers were conducted.
The thesis documents the evolution of the Bridgend problem over time. The elements that added to the newsworthiness of the story and resulted in its transition from the local to the national press are identified and closely examined. The analysis of the national news coverage reveals the central role of ‘causality’ and ‘morality’ in the Bridgend narrative as well as four main frames through which the local suicide problem has been made sense of: ‘Internet Suicide’ raises questions about online memorials glamorising suicide, pro-suicide websites and the ‘dark side’ of the Internet in general. ‘Suicide Contagion’ considers the risk of imitative suicides posed by new or traditional media. ‘Breakdown Britain’ attributes the Bridgend phenomenon to local deprivation and a deeper social malaise. Finally, ‘Mental Health’ underlines the emotional vulnerability of young people, the stigmatisation of mental illness and the deficiencies in mental health care.
Underlining the status of the Bridgend case as a point of reference, the final part of this project assesses its aftermath in terms of the immediate policy responses to it and its long-term implications. It is argued that, despite its commercial and ideological exploitation, the Bridgend situation has, even if belatedly, brought attention to the alarmingly high occurrence of youth suicides in the area, while highlighting the importance of responsible suicide coverage. The thesis concludes by suggesting that the links between suicide reporting, awareness and prevention need to be strengthened and considers the means through which this goal could be attained in the post-Leveson era.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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