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Psychiatry Investig. 2016 Jan;13(1):74-81. doi: 10.4306/pi.2016.13.1.74. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

Copycat Suicide Induced by Entertainment Celebrity Suicides in South Korea.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Behavioral Science in Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2
Division of Cardiology, Yonsei Cardiovascular Center, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Throughout the past several years, there have been a number of entertainment celebrity suicides in South Korea. The aim of this study was to investigate the clustering of suicides following celebrities' suicides in South Korea from 2005 to 2008, particularly according to certain characteristics.

METHODS:

Seven celebrity suicides were examined and defined using the Korean Integrated Newspaper Database System (KINDS) and from these, we considered four affected periods occurring 28 days after each celebrity's suicide. A Poisson time-series autoregression model was used to estimate the relative risk of the total suicide number for each affected period from 2005 to 2008. Logistic regression analysis was performed to investigate whether there were specific increases in the numbers of suicides in subgroups matching each celebrity.

RESULTS:

There were significant increases in the risk of suicide during the affected periods. Remarkable increases were found in the subgroups matching each celebrity, especially in the group in which all factors (sex, age, and method) were similar.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides confirmation that a significant copycat effect was induced by these celebrities' suicides, especially among people who identified more with the celebrities. This implies that countermeasures for upright media coverage of celebrity suicides should be discussed and practiced properly in South Korea.

KEYWORDS:

Imitative behavior; Mass media; Republic of Korea; Risk factors; Suicide

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