Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 215–221 | Cite as

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 TA Cheng
Original Paper



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.


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.


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.


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.


Media report Celebrity suicide Charcoal burning Imitation suicide 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying-Yeh Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shu-Fen Liao
    • 3
  • Po-Ren Teng
    • 4
  • Chi-Wei Tsai
    • 1
  • Hsiang-Fang Fan
    • 1
  • Wen-Chung Lee
    • 3
  • Andrew TA Cheng
    • 5
  1. 1.Taipei City Psychiatric CentreTaipei City HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Institute of Public Health and Department of Public HealthNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Epidemiology, College of Public HealthNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryShow Chwan Health Care SystemChanghuaTaiwan
  5. 5.Institute of Biomedical SciencesAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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