Australian Institute of Criminology

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Juvenile suicides

  1. Gould, M. and Davidson, L. 1988, 'Suicide Contagion Among Adolescents', Advances in Adolescent Mental Health, vol. 3, pp. 29-59.

    Looks at suicidal behaviour in adolescents and the role of imitation and contagion which is presumed to play a role in so-called suicide 'epidemics' or 'clusters' and research on the effects of suicide stories in the mass media. Provides detailed accounts of epidemic or cluster suicides. Refers to suicides in jail in Finland 1963-67.

  2. Phillips, David P. and Carstensen, L. L. 1986, 'Clustering of Teenage Suicides after Television News Stories about Suicide', The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 315, no. 11, pp. 685-9.

    We examined the relation between 38 nationally televised news or feature stories about suicide from 1973 to 1979 and the fluctuation of the rate of suicide among American teenagers before and after these stories. The observed number of suicides by teenagers from zero to seven days after these broadcasts (1666) was significantly greater than the number expected (1555; P = 0.008). The more networks that carried a story about suicide, the greater was the increase in suicides thereafter (P = 0.0004). These findings persisted after correction for the effects of the day of the week, the month, holidays, and yearly trends. Teenage suicides increased more than adult suicides after stories about suicide (6.87 vs. 0.45 per cent). Suicides increased as much after general-information or feature stories about suicide as after news stories about a particular suicide. Six alternative explanations of these findings were assessed, including the possibility that the results were due to misclassification or were statistical artefacts. We conclude that the best available explanation is that television stories about suicide trigger additional suicides, perhaps because of imitation.

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