July 6, 2018 – Suicide and Contagion


Anchor lead: What is the impact of high profile suicides? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Suicide can be contagious, research into rates of spates of suicide show. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist and depression expert at Johns Hopkins, says when a prominent and well-known person chooses to end their life, the ripples can extend far and wide.

Swartz: When there are tragic deaths by suicide, of public figures, we have the risk of contagion. When someone who is feeling well hears that they think it’s sad, and they wonder oh my goodness why would this happen? If you are depressed, contemplating suicide and on the verge, and then you see an example of someone who has done this it does increase the risk that someone might act. It almost strips away one of the taboos, which is really dangerous. I saw many more accounts that included if you’re feeling depressed please seek help. And so I think we’re making some progress but I fear there’s not enough.   :34

Swartz hopes public awareness will also help identify those at risk so intervention is possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.