The Impact of a Celebrity's Suicide on the Introduction and Establishment of a New Method of Suicide in South Korea

Ying Yeh Chen, Paul S.F. Yip, Chee Hon Chan, King Wa Fu, Shu Sen Chang, Won Jin Lee, David Gunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Unlike other East Asian countries, South Korea has until recently experienced relatively few charcoal burning suicides. We investigated trends in charcoal burning suicide immediately following the suicide by charcoal burning of the South Korean celebrity-Ahn Jae-Hwan-in September 2008. In the study, we compared the weekly number charcoal burning suicides 1 year before and after the celebrity's death. Before Ahn Jae-Hwan's suicide, charcoal burning accounted for <1% of suicides; his death was followed by an immediate and sustained increase in the use of this method-it accounted for nearly 5% of suicides (n = 772 suicides) in the subsequent 12 months. The demographic patterning (young male predominance) and location (inside cars) of the charcoal burning suicides further supported a copy-cat effect. Ahn Jae-Hwan's death appears to have triggered a rapid and sustained adoption of charcoal burning as a method of suicide in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

Keywords

  • celebrity
  • charcoal burning
  • media
  • South Korea
  • suicide
  • suicide method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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