Suicide Contagion: What Is It & How To Prevent It?

Last Update on October 20, 2022 : Published on October 27, 2022
Suicide-contagion

You must know of many diseases that are contagious but did you know suicide can be contagious too? Suicide is not something that develops because of a virus or bacteria then how is it even possible for someone to catch suicidal ideations from someone else?

I know it all sounds crazy but suicidal contagion is a phenomenon that has proved this idea of suicide being contagious right. Suicide contagion states that the risk of suicide can increase when someone close to them commits suicide.

The phenomenon of suicide contagion can be commonly seen when a celebrity commits suicide. Do you remember the news about fans committing suicide because their favorite celebrity committed suicide? Well, that’s a classic case of suicide contagion!

Let’s learn more about suicide contagion…

What Do You Mean By Suicide Contagion?

suicide-contagion

 

In simple words, suicide contagion means that suicide is contagious. When a person commits suicide, people close to them become vulnerable to catching the feelings of the diseased which increases the risk of suicide for them as well.

Suicide contagion is also known as copycat suicides because the act of committing suicide is literally copied by people who are already at a high risk of committing suicide. When one person commits suicide, it acts as an influence or motivation for other people to die by suicide as well.

Suicide Contagion & Suicide Clusters

The influence suicide has or the spread of suicide contagion can be of two types. It can either be large-scale or just be limited to a specific area. This division of the bases of influence is called suicide clusters.

Let’s have a look at the two types of suicide clusters;

1. Point clusters

Point clusters are those kinds of suicide cluster which has a small-scale influence and only after those people who are directly related to the person who has committed suicide. People who fall in the point cluster are family members, friends, neighbors, relatives, etc., or the people who have been directly explored to the suicide.

2. Mass clusters

Mass clusters are those kinds of suicide clusters that happen when indirectly witnessing the suicide of someone they know of. It is a large-scale influence, for example, suicide by a popular actor or celebrity, or politician. Many people look up to such people and when they commit suicide, it can act as a trigger for many fans and supporters.

Why Does Suicide Contagion Happen?

what-is-a-suicide-contagion

There are mental health experts who have been doing their research on suicide and its contagious properties. Although they have gathered enough proof that suicide contagion is in fact true, the cause of the same has not been found yet.

We are yet to discover why suicide contagion happens. However, researchers have found a few potential causes of suicidal contagion, let’s have a look;

1. Social learning:

According to the social learning theory, we tend to pick up behaviors and thoughts from people. We all become models for one another, where you borrow actions, beliefs, and values from someone and the other takes them from you.

Social learning can be a potential cause of suicide contagion. When someone commits suicide, those who looked up to them as models can mimic this action as well.

2. Homophily:

“birds of the same feather flock together.” Homophily states that people resonate with other people in terms of feeling, actions, thought processes, etc.

you associate more with link-minded people. Therefore, suicidal people associate with each other more than other people and any of them committing suicide can motivate others to commit suicide as well.

How To Prevent Suicide Contagion?

Suicide contagion can be prevented only if we all take active measures to reduce the influence and minimize the spread. We need to learn to address suicide properly and understand that suicide doesn’t happen because of one negative incident, it takes place after a series of events that emotionally, mentally, and physically exploit an individual.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent suicide contagion;

  • While conveying the news about someone’s suicide stick to the facts, don’t add assumptions or opinions
  • Do not reduce the act of suicide to just some minor inconvenience
  • Do not ever give details about how the act was committed
  • Do not say that dying by suicide has rescued them of their pain
  • Do not ever glamorize the idea of suicide
  • Always spread information about suicide prevention and helpline numbers

Here’s what you can do to prevent suicide contagion in school or at home;

  • Talk to your children/students about death
  • Do not hide the truth from them but don’t describe each detail of the action
  • Always be available for your children and make them feel comfortable enough to be able to talk to you about their feelings
  • Don’t shun their troubled feelings and thoughts, acknowledge them
  • Take professional help if need be

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about suicide contagion helpful, informative, and thought-provoking. Suicide contagion can happen to anyone so always keep a check on your loved ones if someone they loved has recently committed suicide.

Also, share the above-mentioned tips on how to prevent suicide contagion with your friends and family.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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