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Encyclopedia > Copycat suicide
History of suicide
List of suicides
Views on suicide
Medical | Cultural
Legal | Philosophical
Religious | Right to die
Suicide crisis
Intervention | Prevention
Crisis hotline | Suicide watch
Types of suicide
Suicide by method | Copycat suicide
Cult suicide | Euthanasia
Forced suicide | Internet suicide
Mass suicide | Murder-suicide
Ritual suicide | Suicide attack
Suicide pact | Teenage suicide
Related phenomena
Parasuicide | Self-harm
Suicidal ideation | Suicide note
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A copycat suicide is defined as a duplication or copycat of another suicide that the person attempting suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media. Sometimes this is known as a Werther effect, following the Werther novel of Goethe. It has been suggested that The Pros of suicide be merged into this article or section. ... Suicide has been part of the history of the world - people of all walks of life had committed suicide over the years. ... // The following are lists of notable people who have definitely died intentionally by their own hand, regardless of the circumstances. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue. ... Various human cultures may have views on suicide not directly or solely linked to religious views of suicide. ... This page concerns suicide. ... In ethics and other branches of philosophy suicide poses a difficult question, answered differently by philosophers from different times and traditions. ... There are a variety of religious views of suicide. ... For the 1987 film, see Right to Die (film) The term right to die refers to various issues around the death of an individual when that person could continue to live with the aid of life support, or in a diminished or enfeebled capacity. ... A suicide crisis, suicidal crisis, or potential suicide, is a situation in which a person is attempting to kill himself or is seriously contemplating or planning to do so. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue rather than allowing that individuals can make a sane or reasoned choice to take their own life. ... Various suicide prevention strategies have been used: Promoting mental resilience through optimism and connectedness. ... As a suicide prevention initiative, this sign on the Golden Gate Bridge promotes a special telephone that connects to a crisis hotline. ... Suicide watch is an intensive monitoring process used to ensure that an individual does not commit suicide. ... Suicide methods are the different methods people have chosen to commit suicide. ... Cult suicide is that phenomenon by which some religious groups, in this context often referred to as cults, have led to their membership committing suicide. ... Euthanasia (from Greek: ευθανασία -ευ, eu, good, θάνατος, thanatos, death) is the practice of terminating the life of a person or animal in a painless or minimally painful way. ... Forced suicide is a method of execution where the victim is given the choice of committing suicide or facing an alternative they perceive as worse, such as suffering torture; having friends or family members imprisoned, tortured or killed; or losing honor, position or means. ... An Internet suicide is a suicide pact made between individuals who meet on the Internet. ... Mass suicide occurs when a number of people kill themselves together with one another or for the same reason and is usually connected to a real or perceived persecution. ... A murder suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before, or while killing himself. ... Ritual suicide is the act of suicide motivated by a religious, spiritual, or traditional ritual. ... A suicide attack is an attack in which the attacker (attacker being either an individual or a group) intends to kill others and intends to die in the process of doing so (see suicide). ... A suicide pact describes the suicides of two or more individuals in an agreed-upon plan. ... Teenage suicide is the self-killing of a teenager. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Self-harm (SH) is deliberate injury to ones own body. ... Suicidal ideation is common medical term for the mere thoughts about and of plans of committing suicide, not the actual following through or act itself. ... Kurt Cobains alleged suicide note. ... The term copycat (also written as copy-cat or copy cat) refers to the tendency of humans to duplicate the behavior of others, as expressed in the saying, monkey see, monkey do. ... It has been suggested that The Pros of suicide be merged into this article or section. ... The Sorrows of Young Werther (German, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, originally published as Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced [gø tə]) (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was a German writer, politician, humanist, scientist, and philosopher. ...

The well-known suicide serves as a model, in the absence of protective factors, for the next suicide. This is referred to as suicide contagion 7. They occasionally spread through a school system, through a community, or in terms of a celebrity suicide wave, nationally. This is called a suicide cluster 7. Examples of celebrities whose suicides have inspired suicide clusters include the American musician Kurt Cobain and the Japanese musician hide. Students in Rome, Italy. ... Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – c. ... The correct title of this article is . ...

To prevent this type of suicide, it is customary in some countries for the media to discourage suicide reports except in special cases.



The nature of copycat suicides suggests that it is a phenomenon that must have been with us since the development of civilization. One of the earliest known associations between the media and suicide arose from Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), published in 1774. In that work the hero shoots himself after an ill-fated love, and shortly after its publication there were many reports of young men using the same method to commit suicide. This resulted in a ban of the book in several places. Hence the term "Werther effect", used in the technical literature to designate copycat suicides.1 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced [gø tə]) (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was a German writer, politician, humanist, scientist, and philosopher. ... The Sorrows of Young Werther (German, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, originally published as Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. ... Chesma Column in Tsarskoe Selo, commemorating the end of the Russo-Turkish War. ...

Factors in suicide reporting

Publishing the means of suicides, romanticized and sensationalized reporting, particularly about celebrities, suggestions that there is an epidemic, glorifying the deceased and simplifying the reasons all lead to increases in the suicide rate. Increased rate of suicides has been shown to occur up to ten days after a television report.2

Many people interviewed after the suicide of a relative or friend have a tendency to simplify the issues; their grief can lead to their minimizing or ignoring significant factors. Over 90 percent of suicide victims have a significant psychiatric illness at the time of their death[citation needed] with mood disorders and substance abuse being the two most common. These are often undiagnosed or untreated. Treatment of these disorders can result in reductions in the suicide rate. Reports that minimise the impact of psychiatric disorders contribute to copycat suicides whereas reports that mention this factor and provide help-line contact numbers and advice for where sufferers may gain assistance can reduce suicides. The Scream, the famous painting commonly thought of as depicting the experience of mental illness. ... A mood disorder is a condition whereby the prevailing emotional mood is distorted or inappropriate to the circumstances. ... Substance abuse refers to the overindulgence in and dependence on a psychoactive leading to effects that are detrimental to the individuals physical health or mental health, or the welfare of others. ...

Social Proof Model

An alternate model to explain copycat suicide, called "social proof" by Cialdini,6 goes beyond the theories of glorification and simplification of reasons to look at why copycat suicides are so similar, demographically and in actual methods, to the original publicized suicide. In the social proof model, people imitate those who seem similar, despite or even because of societal disapproval. This model is important because it has nearly opposite ramifications for what the media ought to do about the copycat suicide effect than the standard model does. Social proof, aka informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon which occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. ...

Journalism codes

Various countries have national journalism codes which range from one extreme of, "Suicide and attempted suicide should in general never be given any mention." (Norway, Brazil) to a more moderate, "In cases of suicide, publishing or broadcasting information in an exaggerated way that goes beyond normal dimensions of reporting with the purpose of influencing readers or spectators should not occur. Photography, pictures, visual images or film depicting such cases should not be made public." (Turkey)3 Many countries do not have national codes but do have in-house guidelines along similar lines. In the U.S. there are no industry wide standards and a survey of inhouse guides of 16 US daily newspapers showed that only three mentioned the word suicide and none gave guidelines about publishing the method of suicide. Craig Branson, online director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), has been quoted as saying, "Industry codes are very generic and totally voluntary. Most ethical decisions are left to individual editors at individual papers. The industry would fight any attempt to create more specific rules or standards, and editors would no doubt ignore them."3 Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... American Society of Newspaper Editors The American Society of Newspaper Editors, also known as ASNE, is a membership organization for daily newspaper editors, people who serve the editorial needs of daily newspapers (wire service editors, news executives at newspaper companies, people who work for journalism think tanks, etc. ...

Journalist training

Australia is one of the few countries where there is a concerted effort to teach journalism students about this subject. The Mindframe national media initiative4 followed an ambivalent response by the Australian Press Council to an earlier media resource kit issued by Suicide Prevention Australia and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention. The UK-based media ethics charity MediaWise provides training for journalists on reporting suicide related issues. The Australian Press Council is the self-regulatory body of the Australian print media. ...

See also

  • Heathers, a 1989 black comedy film in which the ostensible suicides of popular high school students spur copycat attempts.

Heathers is a 1989 black comedy film starring Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, and Christian Slater. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


1 Preventing suicide: A report for media professionals - World Health Organization, 2000

2 Philips DP. The impact of fictional television stories on US adult fatalities: new evidence on the effect of the mass media on violence. American journal of sociology, 1982, 87: 1340-1359.

3 Covering suicide worldwide: media responsibilities The MediaWise Trust September 2001

4 Reporting Suicide: Guidance for journalists Guidelines from The MediaWise Trust, available in English, Spanish and French

5 Mindframe national media initiative Australian Government - Department of health and ageing

6 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Cialdini, 1998, ISBN 0-688-12816-5

7Halgin, Richard P.; Susan Whitbourne (2006). Abnormal psychology : clinical perspectives on psychological disorders. Boston : McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-322872-9. 

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Suicide Reference Library (588 words)
Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family, one's peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors.
Following exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family or peer group, suicide risk can be minimized by having family members, friends, peers, and colleagues of the victim evaluated by a mental health professional.
Copycat suicides are more likely to follow the suicide of a celebrity than if a member of the general population takes their own life, US study findings indicate.
ooBdoo (4385 words)
The person feeling suicidal may often be made to feel rejected and guilty by those to whom they have confided their thoughts and feelings.
Suicidal ideation can be described as a result from the experience of emotional pain outweighing the individual's coping strategies and resources for dealing with that pain.
Suicidal attacks by pilots were common in the 20th century: the attack by U.S. torpedo planes at the Battle of Midway was very similar to a kamikaze attack.
  More results at FactBites »



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