What is "Copycat Suicide" and why should you care?

What is "Copycat Suicide" and why should you care?

Suicide clusters are caused by the social learning of suicide-related behaviors, or "copycat suicides".

Data on Copycat Suicide:

  • Identified 12 spatial clusters between 2010 and 2012.
  • Five occurred among young people (n = 53, representing 5.6% [53/940] of youth suicides) and seven occurred among adults (n = 137, representing 2.3% [137/5939] of adult suicides).
  • Clusters ranged in size from three to 21 for youth and from three to 31 for adults.
  • When compared to adults, suicides by young people were significantly more likely to occur as part of a cluster
  • The clustering of suicidal behavior is more common in young people (<25 years) than adults.
  • The internet and social media might have particularly important roles in spreading suicidal behavior.
  • Suicide clusters can occur as a greater number of episodes than expected at a specific location, including in institutions (eg, schools, universities, psychiatric units, and youth offender units).

Examples of celebrities whose suicides have triggered suicide clusters

  • South Korean actress Choi Jin-Sil, whose suicide caused suicide rates to rise by 162.3%
  • Marilyn Monroe, whose death was followed by an increase of 200 more suicides than average for that August month
  • On May 29, 2019, research published in JAMA Psychiatry outlined an association of increased suicides in 10- to 19-year-olds in the United States in the 3 months following the release of 13 Reasons Why.
  • A 2017 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found the online series 13 Reasons Why which chronicled a fictional teen's suicide was associated with an increase in suicide-related Internet searches, including a:
    • 26% increase in searches for "how to commit suicide“
    • 18% increase for "commit suicide"
  • The successive suicide deaths of famed designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain last year also contributed to fears of suicide contagion because they were broadcast and publicized so widely.
  • Researchers estimate that the 2014 suicide death of actor Robin Williams contributed to a 10% increase in suicides over the following four months.

Natasha Goulbourn Foundation eyes more support for HOPELINE 

Quite recently, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing depression to light through the use of educational lectures, confidential crisis lines and referrals to partner psychologists established in 2007 by NGF Founding President and Executive Director Jean Goulbourn, and one of the country’s pioneer independent foundations recognized by the International Association of Suicide Prevention; reiterated their appeal for support for the 24/7 crisis hotline called HOPELINE in gathering for friends and media.

“Suicide cases in the Philippines are rising at an alarming rate, and depression incidences are at an all-time high, and we at NGF and our crisis hotline HOPELINE experience more and more calls every day. We have so far saved more than 300,000 lives,” said Jean Goulbourn.

Goulborn further said, “We are calling on all Filipinos to help us bring this issue, especially depression to light, breaking free from the stigma, the shame, and the fear. Knowing about depression can decrease the risk of suicide.”

Check out their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/hopelineph.

The official HOPELINE numbers are +632 7804 4673; 0917 588 HOPE (4683); and 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM subscribers).


  • Australia Report – IASP
  • National Coronial Information System
  • TheLancet.com
  • "The Werther Effect of Two Celebrity Suicides: an Entertainer and a Politician". Abnormal Psychology with MindMap II CD-ROM and PowerWeb.
  • "Internet Searches for Suicide Following the Release of 13 Reasons Why" Wikipedia

Also read: Parenting essentials: Developing your child’s self-esteem

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Sinulat ni

Audrey Torres

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