Navigation Link

1215 South Walnut Ave.
Demopolis, AL 36732 map map 

Access to Care: 1-800-239-2901

Health Policy & Advocacy
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Many Older Adults Can't Connect With Telehealth: StudyAHA News: High-Speed Internet Offers Key Connection to Health, But Millions Lack It11 States Could Face ICU Doc Shortages as Coronavirus Cases SurgeWill the Telemedicine Boom Outlast the Pandemic?Yet Another Study Finds Vaccines Are SafeIn Rush to Publish, Most COVID-19 Research Isn't Reliable, Experts SayWith Tighter Handgun Laws, U.S. Would See Fewer Suicides by Young PeoplePandemic Has ER Docs Stressed Out and Weary: SurveyU.S. Air Quality Got Better During Pandemic: StudyColon Cancer Tests by Mail Might Boost ScreeningWill CPR Save Your Life? Study Offers a Surprising AnswerWill COVID Pandemic's Environmental Benefit Last?AHA News: As Pandemic Disrupts Research, Scientists Look for New Ways ForwardAmericans Lag Behind Brits When It Comes to HealthBan Menthol Cigarettes, Lower Smoking Rates?Tech Is Keeping More Americans in Touch With DoctorsEven Small Reductions in Air Pollution Help The HeartHigh Costs Lead Millions of Americans to Shop Abroad for Rx DrugsPandemic Hits Primary Care Practices Hard Across the U.S.: StudyOne-Time Treatment Eases Parkinson's -- in MiceAHA News: Here's What Doctors Know About Immunizations Right Now – You Still Need ThemDoctors' Choice of Anesthesia Could Help Curb Climate ChangeTough State Gun Laws Help Save Lives: StudyBlood Donors Will Get Results of Coronavirus Antibody Test, Red Cross SaysCOVID Got You Scared of Performing CPR? Study Finds Infection Risk Is LowFor Stressed-Out Black Americans, Mental Health Care Often Hard to Come ByHealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: For Patients, Promise and Challenges Ahead">HealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: For Patients, Promise and Challenges Ahead
Women Still Left Out of Much Medical ResearchHealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: Robots Already Helping Humans Deliver Better Care">HealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: Robots Already Helping Humans Deliver Better Care
HealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: Giving Docs a Diagnostic Assist">HealthDay In-Depth
The AI Revolution: Giving Docs a Diagnostic Assist
AHA News: Calorie Data on Menus Could Generate Significant Health, Economic BenefitsPandemic Has Left Nearly 43 Million Americans Without WorkPeople Are Avoiding the ER During COVID-19 Crisis at Their Peril: StudyAs Postponed Surgeries Resume, Can U.S. Hospitals Handle the Strain?Most Americans Still More Worried About COVID-19 Spread Than the EconomyBig Need for Blood Donations as Postponed Surgeries ResumeEmergency Transport Can Surprise Many With Big BillsOnly Half of Americans Say They'd Get a Coronavirus Vaccine: SurveyIf Prescribed Opioids for Pain, Ask Lots of Questions: FDAState Texting Bans Are Saving Teen Drivers' LivesMillions of Older Americans Can't Get Enough FoodLayoffs and Losses: COVID-19 Leaves U.S. Hospitals in Financial CrisisFDA Goes After Unproven COVID-19 Antibody TestsDuring Droughts, Many Poor Americans Will Lack Clean Tap Water: StudyDid the Movie 'Joker' Reinforce Prejudice Against Mentally Ill?AHA News: How to Get the Most Out of Health AppsCoronavirus Conspiracy Theories Abound, and They Could Cause Real HarmAHA News: Health Emergency? Don't Hesitate to Get HelpAn Expert's Guide to Fact-Checking Coronavirus Info OnlineRacial, Ethnic Gaps in Insurance Put Moms, Babies at Risk: Study
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Health Insurance

Celebrity Suicides Spawn 'Copycat' Tragedies, Study Shows

HealthDay News
by By Amy NortonHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Mar 19th 2020

new article illustration

THURSDAY, March 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- When the media report on a celebrity's suicide, especially in a sensationalist way, it may fuel "copycat" tragedies, a new review finds.

In an analysis of 20 studies from more than a dozen countries, researchers confirmed a phenomenon sometimes called "suicide contagion." It happens when vulnerable people identify with a person who died by suicide, and then see that route as a viable solution to their own problems.

And research shows that media coverage of a celebrity's death by suicide may have a particularly strong impact.

Across the studies in the review, suicide rates in the general public rose anywhere from 8% to 18% in the two months following media stories on a celebrity's suicide.

The connection was even clearer when that coverage eschewed experts' recommendations for responsible reporting: When stories described a famous person's method of suicide, deaths by that same method rose by 30%, on average.

It all suggests that media coverage has a "clear and compelling impact on subsequent suicide rates," said lead researcher Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, an associate professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

His team reported the findings March 18 in the BMJ medical journal.

There are guidelines for how the media should report on suicide deaths, from the World Health Organization and an array of mental health organizations. But they are not followed consistently, or in all countries, Niederkrotenthaler pointed out.

The latest findings, he said, "highlight that media guidelines for the reporting of suicide need to be widely distributed and implemented."

Recent years have seen widespread coverage of the deaths of celebrities like Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade -- with many stories giving details of their suicides, or otherwise violating reporting guidelines.

And research suggests there were consequences. One study found that in the months following Williams' death in 2014, suicide deaths in the United States rose 10%. Specifically, there was a 32% spike in suicides by the method he used.

But it's not only the reporting on details that matters. The involvement of a celebrity seems to affect certain vulnerable individuals -- especially when they identify with that person in some way.

"A number of studies indicate that rises in suicide occur more in the demographic groups that most closely match the celebrity," said Dr. David Gunnell, a professor at Bristol Medical School in England.

For example, after Williams' death, there was a notable rise in suicides among men aged 45 to 64.

Gunnell, who wrote an editorial published with the review, agreed that media outlets need to do a better job of following guidelines.

Those guidelines say that among other steps, journalists should skip any speculation on the reasons for the death, and avoid front-page coverage and sensational headlines.

No one is saying the subject should be taboo, however.

In fact, Niederkrotenthaler said, research suggests that media coverage can have positive effects -- when, for example, it spotlights stories of people seeking help and recovering from suicidal thoughts.

Ken Norton is executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate in New Hampshire. The group was one of many that collaborated on recommendations for reporting on suicide -- for journalists, as well as bloggers and others on social media.

Unfortunately, Norton said, media outlets have yet to formally adopt the guidelines.

"Some of the coverage of Kate Spade's death, for example, was horrendous -- including from reputable sources," Norton said.

He agreed, however, that the media can have a positive impact. Even with the flawed coverage of Williams' death, for example, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline spiked afterward, and then remained higher than the previous norm.

What's important is using care and discretion -- advice that also applies to non-journalists sharing news stories or commenting on social media, according to Norton.

"People may not always think about how this could affect a friend who reads it," he said.

More information

For resources, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.