Warning: The Media is Trying to Kill You

Warning: The Media is Trying to Kill You

Clearly, the media manipulates the population’s worldview. But less obvious is that this altered perception manifests itself into reality.

It is the old, which came first, the chicken or the egg? To what extent does the media encourage the negative events they love to report on?

Suicide is the perfect example of this phenomenon: suicides increase when reported in the media. According to Robert C. Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there is a psychological condition know as the “Werther Effect”, named after the protagonist in a famous German book who kills himself. When the book came out two centuries ago, an epidemic of young suicides hit Europe everywhere the book was read.

The same thing happens today:

…immediately following a front page suicide story, the suicide rate increases dramatically in those geographical areas where the story has been highly publicized.

…within two months after every front page suicide story, an average of 58 more people than usual kill themselves.

This is a form of social proof, and social proof is one of the main tactics the media uses to sell their stories. People decide suicide is an appropriate response to their troubles when they see others taking the same route.


The suicides encouraged by the Werther effect even match the demographics of the original person who committed suicide; a story of a young man killing himself means more young men will end it all, older women copy older women’s publicized suicides, etc. Even increases in single suicides versus murder suicides match the headlines.

Suicide rates are now the highest they have been in decades. And unfortunately this effect does not only apply to suicide, reports of murder also increase murders in the areas they are publicized.

So the media is not simply reporting on the world around us, they are influencing the world around us to match their gloomy worldview.

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