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Long-term impact of celebrity suicide on suicidal ideation: results from a population-based study
  1. King-wa Fu1,
  2. Paul S F Yip2
  1. 1Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, PR China
  2. 2HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, PR China
  1. Correspondence to:
 MrK-w Fu
 Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Flat 3B, 2 University Drive, Hong Kong, China; kwfu{at}hku.hk

Abstract

Background: The short-term effect of celebrity suicide on the overall suicide rate is widely known, but long-term effects remain unclear.

Objective: To examine whether celebrity suicide is associated with suicidal ideation over a longer period.

Design: This is a study on the effect of the suicide of a famous Hong Kong entertainment celebrity, who committed suicide on 1 April 2003, on suicide thoughts of the community. A population-based survey was conducted between December 2003 and July 2004. Respondents were asked about their suicidal ideation, psychological well-being, life events, and whether or not they had been affected by celebrity suicide.

Setting: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People’s Republic of China.

Participants: 2016 respondents aged between 20 and 59 years.

Results: After controlling for some known suicide risk factors, celebrity suicide was shown to be independently associated with suicidal ideation. People who had indicated to have been affected by celebrity suicide were 5.93 times (95% CI 2.56% to 13.72%, p = 0) more likely to have severe level of suicidal ideation (Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire score ≧31) than people who had not been affected. Respondents having greater anxiety symptoms, less reason for living and more focus on irrational values were also found to have had their suicide ideation affected by celebrity suicide.

Conclusions: Celebrity suicide is a risk factor for suicidal ideation over a short term as well as over a long term. Raising awareness of the possible negative effect of celebrity suicide through suicide prevention programmes in the community is needed.

  • ASIQ, Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire
  • BRFL, Brief Reasons for Living
  • VIF, Variance Inflation Factor

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

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