Awareness & Knowledge Save Lives

June 07, 2018 - 214 views

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Kate Spade's death is a tragedy. It became a spectacle.

In the hours after police announced the fashion designer had died, many news outlets reported graphic details of her suicide. Many readers hunted down those details, trying to dissect an act that seems incomprehensible, to weave together a story with no easy lessons. But for people who have contemplated suicide, the rehashing of these details can mean the difference between life and death.

Mental health experts say exposure to media coverage of a high-profile suicide, especially coverage which fixates on the gratuitous details of a person's death, can lead to more suicides. It's called suicide contagion.

"When we cover suicide irresponsibly, we actually make the problem worse because there are things in suicide stories that are scientifically proven to create a contagion effect," said Kelly McBride, vice president at The Poynter Institute and the organization's resident expert on suicide reporting. "We have a moral obligation to find an alternative [way] to tell the story."

Suicide Rates by Age

Suicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity

In 2016, the highest U.S. suicide rate (15.17) was among Whites and the second highest rate (13.37) was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (Figure 5). Much lower and roughly similar rates were found among Asians and Pacific Islanders (6.62), and Black or African Americans (6.03).

Note that the CDC records Hispanic origin separately from the primary racial or ethnic groups of White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander, since individuals in all of these groups may also be Hispanic. Its also important to note that while African American has an overall lower group total, African Americans has continued to see an increase in suicides recently.


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