OPEN Psychiatrische Praxis | 10 Feb 2016
SC von Heydendorff and H Dreßing
Objective: The present study was designed to investigate the frequency of media stigmatization of mentally ill persons after the crash of the “Germanwings”-aircraft on March 2015. Method: Evaluation of 251 texts, which were published in 12 national German newspapers. Categorical distinction between risky coverage and explicit characteristics of stigmatization. Results: In 64.1 % of the evaluated texts, a psychiatric disease of the co-pilot was discussed as the possible cause of the crash, making this the most widely-used explanation in the media that we view “risky coverage”. Characteristics of explicit stigmatization were found in 31.5 % of the texts. Most prominent category of explicit stigmatization was the rubric “Metaphorical language/dramatizations”. It was found in 23.5 % of the articles. Conclusion: Predominantly risky coverage of mentally ill persons has occured in the wake of a spectacular crime. By obtaining professional expertise of psychiatrists and consistent interpretation of journalistic guidelines, unintended effects of stigmatization could be avoided in the future.
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