The association between celebrity suicide and subsequent increase in suicide rates among the general population has been suggested. Previous studies primarily focused on celebrity suicides in the 2000s. To better understand the association, this study examined the impacts of celebrity suicides on subsequent suicide rates using the data of Korean celebrity suicides between 1990 and 2010. Nine celebrity suicides were selected by an investigation of media reports of suicide deaths published in three major newspapers in Korea between 1990 and 2010. Suicide mortality data were obtained from the National Statistical Office of Korea. Seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models with intervention analysis were used to test the impacts of celebrity suicides, controlling for seasonality. Six of the 9 celebrity suicides had significant impacts on suicide rates both in the total population and in the same gender- or the same age-subgroups. The incident that occurred in the 1990s had no significant impact on the overall suicide rates, whereas the majority of the incidents in the 2000s had significant influences for 30 or 60 days following each incident. The influence of celebrity suicide was shown to reach its peak following the suicide death of a renowned actress in 2008. The findings may suggest a link between media coverage and the impact of celebrity suicide. Future studies should focus more on the underlying processes and confounding factors that may contribute to the impact of celebrity suicide on subsequent suicide rates.
- Werther effect
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