The impact of media reporting of the suicide of a singer on suicide rates in Taiwan

Ying Yeh Chen, Shu Fen Liao, Po Ren Teng, Chi Wei Tsai, Hsiang Fang Fan, Wen Chung Lee, Andrew T.A. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To examine if widespread media reporting of the suicide of a young female singer by charcoal burning increased suicide rates, and to examine whether the suicide induced a high risk of imitation suicide by this method among the young female group. Methods Poisson time series autoregression model was applied to examine the relative risk of overall and subgroup (age, gender and method) suicides during the 2-week period after the initiation of media reporting of the celebrity suicide. Results We found a significant increase (adjusted relative risk = 1.17, p = 0.04) in suicide deaths following media reporting of the celebrity suicide. The increase in suicides was particularly significant among female and young age groups. A marked increase in suicide by charcoal burning among females (adjusted relative risk = 1.44, p < 0.0001) was further observed. Conclusions Detailed description of a specific suicide method following celebrity suicides may induce extensive modeling effect, attracting wider age/sex groups to model the method. Our finding provides further support for restraining media reporting of celebrity suicide in suicide prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Celebrity suicide
  • Charcoal burning
  • Imitation suicide
  • Media report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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