By Jessica Schladebeck
New York Daily News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “According to several studies, publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly linked to a subsequent increase in the act, particularly among young people.”
New York Daily News
When death becomes a spectacle, everyone suffers.
With the tragic passing of Kate Spade earlier this week and the death of Anthony Bourdain Friday morning, the topic of suicide has become a fixture in news headlines and social media posts.
While mental illness is not a transmittable disease, there are many studies suggesting suicide can, in a way, be contagious.
According to several studies, publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly linked to a subsequent increase in the act, particularly among young people.
After Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962, the cause listed as probable suicide, the nation mourned, publicly. In the month that followed there was sweeping news coverage, public memorials and a 12 percent increase in suicides.
That month saw an additional 303 suicides compared with the year prior, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
When Robin Williams died in 2014, the world reacted similarly. The comedian’s image was everywhere, details of his untimely passing spawned countless news articles and think pieces. His death is also similarly associated with a 10 percent increase in suicide across the United States in the five months after his passing, according to a study published in the journal Plos One in February.
The phenomenon is often referred to as “suicide contagion,” defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide.”
And the overwhelming influence of a celebrity or high-profile suicide is far from a new discovery.