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Br J Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;177:463-6.

Effect of death of Diana, princess of Wales on suicide and deliberate self-harm.

Author information

  • 1Centre for Suicide Research, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK. keith.hawton@psych.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The death of the Princess of Wales in 1997 was followed by widespread public mourning. Such major events may influence suicidal behaviour.

AIMS:

To assess the impact of the Princess's death on suicide and deliberate self-harm (DSH).

METHOD:

Analysis, using Poisson regression, of the number of suicides and open verdicts ('suicides') in England and Wales following the Princess's death compared to the 3 months beforehand, and the equivalent periods in 1992-1996. Similar analysis on DSH presentations to a general hospital.

RESULTS:

Suicides increased during the month following the Princess's funeral (+17.4%). This was particularly marked in females (+33.7%), especially those aged 25-44 years (+45.1%). Suicides did not fall in the week between the death and the funeral. Presentations for DSH increased significantly during the week following the death (+44.3%), especially in females (+65.1%). Examination of case notes suggested that the influence of the death was largely through amplification of personal losses or exacerbation of existing distress.

CONCLUSIONS:

The death of a major public figure can influence rates of suicidal behaviour. For DSH, the impact may be immediate, but for suicide it may be delayed.

PMID:
11060002
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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