The Point: Suicide Contagion

It’s called “suicide contagion.”

Last week, two celebrities- fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain – took their own lives. It’s not unusual for suicides to inspire other suicides, though it’s not clear that took place here. Mental health experts call the phenomenon a “suicide contagion.” We saw it in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide in 2014, and even in high schools here in Colorado Springs, where I live.

According to John Draper with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “What creates a contagion effect is when the media focus mostly on the suicide and the way the person killed themselves.” But the media can also help stop suicide contagion by telling stories of those who’ve coped with suicidal thoughts.

The Church has an even bigger role: we must begin to talk about mental illness and the suicide epidemic. Today on the BreakPoint podcast, I talk with Dr. Aaron Kheriaty about what churches can do to fight this deadly contagion.  Come to BreakPoint.org to listen.


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