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Understanding & Preventing Suicide Contagion


The contagion effect, also known as “suicide contagion” or “copycat suicide,” is a phenomenon where exposure to suicide or suicidal behavior can lead to an increase in suicidal behavior among others, especially among those who are already vulnerable. This effect can occur through media coverage, social media, or exposure to the suicide of someone within a community or social group. Preventing the contagion effect involves taking proactive steps to minimize the risk of additional suicides, especially among those who may be influenced by the initial event. Here are some strategies to help prevent suicide contagion.

Responsible Media Reporting

Media outlets should report on suicide in a responsible manner, following guidelines that minimize the risk of contagion. This includes avoiding sensationalism, providing information about resources for help, and refraining from graphic or detailed descriptions of the method used.

Providing Accurate Information

It’s important to provide accurate information about suicide prevention, mental health resources, and support services in the aftermath of a suicide. This can help individuals who may be struggling to seek help.

Postvention Support

After a suicide occurs, providing support and resources to those who may be affected, including family members, friends, and members of the community, can help reduce the risk of further suicides by providing support to those who are grieving and vulnerable.

Training for Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers, such as teachers, healthcare providers, and community leaders, can be trained to recognize the signs of suicide risk and to intervene effectively. This can help identify and support individuals who may be at risk.

Promoting Positive Messaging

Promoting messages of hope, resilience, and help-seeking behavior can help counteract the negative effects of suicide contagion. This can be done through public awareness campaigns, educational programs, and community outreach efforts.

Monitoring Vulnerable Individuals

After a suicide occurs, it’s important to monitor individuals who may be at increased risk, including those who were close to the person who died and those who may have been influenced by the event.

By implementing these strategies, communities can work to prevent the contagion effect and reduce the risk of additional suicides following a suicide event. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to a mental health professional or contact a crisis intervention service for help.

Suicide Contagion Support in Suffolk & Nassau Counties and NYC

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to seek help immediately. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for support and resources. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. Let’s work together to prevent suicide and promote mental health awareness in our communities.

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