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Imitating Stars Not Always a Smart Thing

Celebrity suicides increase likelihood of copycat suicides

WEDNESDAY, March 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Copycat suicides are 14 times more likely to occur after a celebrity commits suicide.

A new study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also found newspaper reports of a suicide have more impact than television coverage of a suicide.

Using statistical analyses, researchers re-assessed about 293 findings from 42 published studies examining the impact of suicide stories reported in the media.

Studies of celebrity suicides were 14 times more likely to find a copycat effect. Studies of real-life suicides, as opposed to fictional suicides, were four times more likely to uncover a copycat effect.

The study notes that previously published research shows suicide rates increased 12 percent in the month that Marilyn Monroe committed suicide in 1962.

In general, the more media coverage of a suicide, the greater the chances of a copycat effect. But research of televised suicides was 82 percent less likely than research of newspaper coverage of suicides to indicate a copycat effect.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about suicide.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, March 19, 2003
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