All Title Author
Keywords Abstract

PLOS ONE  2013 

A Study of the Impact of Thirteen Celebrity Suicides on Subsequent Suicide Rates in South Korea from 2005 to 2009

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053870

Full-Text   Cite this paper   Add to My Lib


A number of ecological studies have found a pattern of increasing suicide rates after suicides of several Asian entertainment celebrities. However, the finding may be subject to positive outcome bias where cases with no perceived impact may be routinely excluded. In this study, we deploy interrupted time-series analysis using ARIMA transfer function models to investigate systematically the impact of thirteen celebrity suicides on subsequent suicide rates in South Korea. We find that three out of eleven cases were found to be followed by a significant increase in suicide rate, while controlling for seasonality, secular trends, and unemployment rates. Such significant increases could last for nine weeks. Non-significance cases may be attributable to the small amount of media coverage, the “displacement” effect of preceding case, and the negative connotation of celebrity deaths. We therefore conclude that whether or not the impacts were detected may be largely conditioned by various contextual factors. Current evidence based on ecological studies is insufficient to draw a firm conclusion. Further studies using multiple approaches should be developed.


[1]  Jonas K (1992) Modelling and suicide: a test of the Werther effect. Br J Soc Psychol 31 (Pt 4): 295–306.
[2]  Martin G, Koo L (1997) Celebrity suicide: Did the death of Kurt Cobain influence young suicides in Australia? Arch Suicide Res 3: 187–198.
[3]  Stack S (1987) Celebrities and suicide: a taxonomy and analysis, 1948–1983. Am Sociol Rev 52: 401–412.
[4]  Cheng AT, Hawton K, Lee CT, Chen TH (2007) The influence of media reporting of the suicide of a celebrity on suicide rates: a population-based study. Int J Epidemiol 36: 1229–1234.
[5]  Fu KW, Yip PS (2009) Estimating the risk for suicide following the suicide deaths of three Asian entertainment celebrities: A meta-analysis approach. J Clin Psychiatry 70: 869–878.
[6]  Yip PSF, Fu KW, Yang KCT, Ip BYT, Chan CLW, et al. (2006) The effects of a celebrity suicide on suicide rates in Hong Kong. J Affect Disord 93: 245–252.
[7]  Niederkrotenthaler T, Fu KW, Yip PSF, Fong DYT, Stack S, et al.. (2012) Changes in suicide rates following media reports on celebrity suicide: a meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health.
[8]  Mesoudi A (2009) The Cultural Dynamics of Copycat Suicide. PLoS ONE 4: e7252.
[9]  Stern JM, Simes RJ (1997) Publication bias: evidence of delayed publication in a cohort study of clinical research projects. BMJ 315: 640–645.
[10]  Domke D, Shah DV, Wackman DB (1998) Media priming effects: Accessibility, association, and activation. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 10: 51–74.
[11]  Phillips DP (1974) Influence of Suggestion on Suicide - Substantive and Theoretical Implications of the Werther Effect. Am Sociol Rev 39: 340–354.
[12]  Fu KW, Yip PS (2007) Long-term impact of Celebrity Suicide on Suicidal Ideation: Results from a population-based study. J Epidemiol Community Health 61: 540–546.
[13]  McCurry J (2009) Storm in South Korea over Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide. The Guardian. London.
[14]  Williamson L (2011) South Korea suicide toll doubles over a decade. BBC News. Seoul.
[15]  National Statistical Office of Korea (2012) Korean Statistical Information Service. In: National Statistical Office of Korea, editor. Daejeon.
[16]  World Health Organization (1992) ICD-10: International statistical classification of diseases and health-related problems: WHO, Geneva.
[17]  Box GEP, Jenkins GM (1976) Time series analysis: forecasting and control. San Francisco: Holden-Day. xxi, 575 p. : p.
[18]  Chang SS, Gunnell D, Sterne JA, Lu TH, Cheng AT (2009) Was the economic crisis 1997–1998 responsible for rising suicide rates in East/Southeast Asia? A time-trend analysis for Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. Soc Sci Med 68: 1322–1331.
[19]  R Development Core Team (2010) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
[20]  Zeger SL, Irizarry R, Peng RD (2006) On time series analysis of public health and biomedical data. Annu Rev Public Health 27: 57–79.
[21]  Etzersdorfer E, Voracek M, Sonneck G (2004) A dose-response relationship between imitational suicides and newspaper distribution. Arch Suicide Res 8: 137–145.
[22]  Niederkrotenthaler T, Voracek M, Herberth A, Till B, Strauss M, et al. (2010) Role of media reports in completed and prevented suicide: Werther v. Papageno effects. The British Journal of Psychiatry 197: 234–243.
[23]  Hawton K, Harriss L, Appleby L, Juszczak E, Simkin S, et al. (2000) Effect of death of Diana, princess of Wales on suicide and deliberate self-harm. Br J Psychiatry 177: 463–466.
[24]  Markus H, Zajonc RB (1985) The Cognitive Perspective in Social Psychology. In: Aronson E, Lindzey G, editors. Handbook of social psychology. 3rd ed. New York: Random House. 137–230.
[25]  Fu KW, Chan YY, Yip PSF (2009) Testing a Theoretical Model based on Social Cognitive Theory for Media Influence on Suicidal Ideation: Results from a Panel Study. Media Psychol 12: 26–49.
[26]  Coggan C, Patterson P, Fill J (1997) Suicide: Qualitative data from focus group interviews with youth. Social Science & Medicine 45: 1563–1570.
[27]  Zahl DL, Hawton K (2004) Media influences on suicidal behaviour: An interview study of young people. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 32: 189–198.
[28]  Schmidtke A, Schaller S (2000) The role of mass media in suicide prevention. In: Hawton K, Heeringen K, editors. The international handbook of suicide and attempted suicide. New York: Wiley. 675–697.
[29]  Barr B, Taylor-Robinson D, Scott-Samuel A, McKee M, Stuckler D (2012) Suicides associated with the 2008–10 economic recession in England: time trend analysis. BMJ 345: e5142.
[30]  Chen Y-Y, Liao S-F, Teng P-R, Tsai C-W, Fan H-F, et al. (2012) The impact of media reporting of the suicide of a singer on suicide rates in Taiwan. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 47: 215–221.
[31]  Jeong J, Shin S, Kim H, Hong Y, Hwang S, et al. (2012) The effects of celebrity suicide on copycat suicide attempt: a multi-center observational study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 47: 957–965.


comments powered by Disqus

Contact Us


微信:OALib Journal