Today, every major news organization announced the death of Alexander McQueen. I do not take this lightly, nor do I want anyone to think I’m in anyway making fun of this situation. I do think it is very important that people know how damaging these stories can be to many people’s lives.
David Phillips pointed out in a research paper in 1974 that immediately following a front-page suicide story, the suicide rate increases dramatically in all areas in which the suicide was highly publicized. Phillips found that certain troubled people who read of another’s self-inflicted death kill themselves. People’s decisions are highly motivated by the acts of others, especially when they can relate to the person. If they are indeed troubled and see that another troubled individual decided to end his life, they follow through with the act themselves. Today, because Alexander McQueen is well known, there is a strong chance that people’s emotions will act in the extreme because of the shock involved.
Phillips, in examining suicide statistics from 1947 to 1968, found that within two months after every front-page suicide article, that an average of 58 additional people followed through with the act. These 58 people more than likely would not have ended their lives unless they read of the first suicide. If you compound that data out, that means that 2,674 people died needlessly, per month because of the news story.
He also discovered that if a story received wide circulation, which this story is, the greater would be the number of later suicides. Upon hearing of another’s suicide, an above average number of people decide that ending one’s life may be an appropriate act as well. Can you imagine the result of this story in 2010 versus 1968? This story is currently being read by 100’s of millions world wide as we speak! I can’t imagine the ramifications.
What is even worse though, is that some people will go out of their way to end their lives in ways that seem like accidents. Research has also shown that after a public suicide, the number of car fatalities rises for unexplained reasons. To protect their families from the truth, these people chose to end their lives in ways that seem to be accidental. The number of airline crashes increases by more than 1000%, as well.
Oddly enough, if the story is about only one person who dies, auto accidents that involve individuals dramatically increases. While if the suicide involves multiple deaths, the auto accidents normally involve multiple deaths as well.
This research is well known to members of the press. While it may be a matter of public record, when a celebrity chooses to end their life, the press might choose to think of the public’s wellfare before publishing the specifics of said death. Some matters should remain private, I’m sure that the family would agree.
There are many issues that aren’t covered and others that maybe shouldn’t be covered. I talk at length about the time I came face to face with subliminal marketing, in a previous article. I hope we all do our best to look out for each other, each and every day.