A study of the impact of thirteen celebrity suicides on subsequent suicide rates in South Korea from 2005 to 2009.

PLoS ONE. 2013;8(1):e53870 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0053870

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS

King-wa Fu
C H Chan

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

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Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

A number of ecological studies have found a pattern of increasing suicide rates after suicides of several Asian entertainment celebrities. However, the finding may be subject to positive outcome bias where cases with no perceived impact may be routinely excluded. In this study, we deploy interrupted time-series analysis using ARIMA transfer function models to investigate systematically the impact of thirteen celebrity suicides on subsequent suicide rates in South Korea. We find that three out of eleven cases were found to be followed by a significant increase in suicide rate, while controlling for seasonality, secular trends, and unemployment rates. Such significant increases could last for nine weeks. Non-significance cases may be attributable to the small amount of media coverage, the "displacement" effect of preceding case, and the negative connotation of celebrity deaths. We therefore conclude that whether or not the impacts were detected may be largely conditioned by various contextual factors. Current evidence based on ecological studies is insufficient to draw a firm conclusion. Further studies using multiple approaches should be developed.