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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1996 Summer;26(2):132-42.

The effect of the media on suicide: evidence from Japan, 1955-1985.

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  • 1Department of Criminal Justice, Wayne State University, USA.


Research on media impacts on suicide has been largely restricted to the United States, a Christian nation marked by moral aversion to suicide. The present study extends the analysis to an Eastern nation, Japan, where people are less critical of those who suicide. Such a cultural definition of suicide might multiply imitative effects. Yule-Walker times series estimates indicate that the imitative effect is restricted to stories concerning Japanese victims. Further, the increase is similar in magnitude to that reported in the American cultural context. The Japanese audience may not be as predisposed to media effects, given a lower divorce rate, low couple centeredness, and a high level of extended family social support. These factors may offset a potentially very high "Werther effect." The model explains 88% of the variance in monthly Japanese suicide rates.

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