Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The Aftermath of a Suicide: Social Media Exposure and Implications for Postvention

Bell, Jo; Westoby, Christopher



Maurizio Pompili


There is an urgent need to understand the effects of social media and related practices in the aftermath of a suicide. News of a death by suicide can explode like a bomb on social media, the impact of which can be felt around the world. Emerging research has shown that activity very often prompts multiple users to respond, rapidly sharing posts and ruminating publicly about the nature and reasons for the death. Knowledge about the role of online communication in the aftermath of a suicide is extremely limited, as is the impact of exposure in this way. Very little is known about the experiences and needs of those who engage in social media practices in the aftermath of a suicide: who engages in these practices; when do they emerge; how do they evolve over time; what is the impact on the immediate and wider community of users; and implications for prevention and postvention.

In this chapter we draw upon existing and emerging literature to highlight how social media practices following a suicide loss increase exposure to suicide and have the potential to increase the risk of contagion. We reflect upon (a) the need for guidelines on safe reporting to be updated to account for the globalization of new media technologies, (b) the implications for postvention, and (c) the need for a new model for understanding the transmission of suicidal behavior via media exposure.


Bell, J., & Westoby, C. (2022). The Aftermath of a Suicide: Social Media Exposure and Implications for Postvention. In M. Pompili (Ed.), Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention. Cham: Springer.

Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2022
Publication Date Feb 10, 2022
Deposit Date May 9, 2022
Publisher Springer
Book Title Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention
ISBN 9783030413194
Keywords Suicide; Social media; Exposure; Contagion; Prevention; Postvention
Public URL