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  1. #1
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    Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the suicide rate has increased 30% since 1999. The increase coincides with the increasing availability of news regarding celebrity suicides over the past twenty years. Just in the past few days, for example, we've had the highly publicized suicides of Spade and Bourdain. Simply put, many people are influenced by and try to emulate the actions of celebrities, and there is no reason to think suicide is an exception. Therefore, my position is that the deaths of celebrities should be reported without mention of suicide being the cause. Furthermore, Hollywood should refrain from including suicides in movies and tv shows, and schools should not assign the reading of Romeo and Juliet.
    Last edited by evensaul; June 8th, 2018 at 12:47 PM.
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

  2. #2
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Romeo and Juliet really can't be shown to be a motivator for suicide. And honestly, suicide pacts are pretty darn rare. Likewise, on TV and Movies, while I think there is a place for responsible storytelling, there is simply too much of art that is about mirroring human experience to say that it must behave in a given way in order to change culture.

    There is an ethical standard that was established for reporting on suicide and some of the major news organizations (NPR for one) follow it in their reporting. It is based on psychological studies and social observation as well as journalistic principles of honest reporting. I agree that news organizations should follow those practices.

    Here is a sample of such rules and guidelines
    https://afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/...mendations.pdf

    I think that the stresses of modern life are simply overwhelming for people. Trying to solve life's challenges are often very complicated. And we tend to rob ourselves of simple pleasures and meaning. We also become much more self-involved and less intimate with others, I think that is probably the biggest factor IMO.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    I do not think suicide should be censored in news media and literature; hearing about suicide is like turning off the safety, not loading the gun. There may be a correlation of suicide media visibility and suicide rate, but it is not the cause. The true causes are the psychological issues that people possess. Those people may commit suicide anyway; it's highly unlikely that the thought wouldn't enter their head at some point, the media coverage of suicide simply gives them the idea faster.

    This media coverage may actually be good. Think about it: let's say a person has the problems to motivate a suicide, but they don't explicitly know it. They've heard that Bourdain's offed himself, and now they're getting gloomy. Generally two things result from this: they consider killing themselves, and they realize their motivation for doing so. The second effect may be quite useful. If they realize that they have suicidal motivation, then they become quite intimately aware of their need for therapy. With some initiative, this realization leads to therapy, and (hopefully) a happier life.

    For those who aren't depressed, suicide in the news may serve as warnings for what not to do to get to such a low point. While the news media is, of course, incontrovertibly wise and useful, it may not be obvious what caused the person's suicide. If this information comes out, the news will quite happily make a story out of it. If it doesn't, seek, and ye shall find.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

  4. #4
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Romeo and Juliet really can't be shown to be a motivator for suicide. And honestly, suicide pacts are pretty darn rare. Likewise, on TV and Movies, while I think there is a place for responsible storytelling, there is simply too much of art that is about mirroring human experience to say that it must behave in a given way in order to change culture.
    It is logical that it does put the idea into the minds of teenagers who wouldn't otherwise consider suicide as an option, and legitimizes that choice for those who are depressed, especially following a romantic breakup. If you're claiming that it has no effect of that kind, then you need to provide some kind of support. And I'm not so much concerned about suicide pacts, as I am with giving impressionable young minds the belief that suicide is an acceptable way out of personal problems. Tell me, what great detriment to the educational process would it be to not have kids read Romeo & Juliet or watch the film? Because the great benefit of that story to our youth completely escapes me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    There is an ethical standard that was established for reporting on suicide and some of the major news organizations (NPR for one) follow it in their reporting. It is based on psychological studies and social observation as well as journalistic principles of honest reporting. I agree that news organizations should follow those practices.

    Here is a sample of such rules and guidelines
    https://afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/...mendations.pdf
    I have zero trust in the rightness of those guidelines. Show me the psychological studies, and who paid for them to be conducted. Was it those news organizations who wanted support for their preferred self-created guidelines?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I think that the stresses of modern life are simply overwhelming for people. Trying to solve life's challenges are often very complicated. And we tend to rob ourselves of simple pleasures and meaning. We also become much more self-involved and less intimate with others, I think that is probably the biggest factor IMO.
    Yeah, lot's of life stressors are factors. That doesn't exclude the glamorizing of suicide in print/film/stage productions or the normalizing of suicide through frequent reporting in the news as additional factors. Studies have found links between media reports of suicide and incidence of copycat suicides among the public, especially when the reporting is about a celebrity:

    Studies that measured the presence of stories regarding well known entertainment and political celebrities were 14.3 times more likely to uncover a copycat effect than studies which did not do so. It is argued that suicide stories about such well known people (for example, Marilyn Monroe, US senators and cabinet members), spark a greater degree of identification than stories about the suicides of other persons. The entertainment celebrity, in particular, has the greatest impact on copycat suicide. According to a reference group approach, if a Marilyn Monroe with all her fame and fortune cannot endure life, the suicidal person may say “Why should I?”. Along these same lines, a recent study of a well known and respected journalist in Quebec has been associated with a substantial rise in suicide rate.2 http://jech.bmj.com/content/57/4/238

    Suicide rates in the United States spiked almost 10 percent following the death in 2014 of actor Robin Williams, and spiked even more among men and those who ended their lives, like Williams, by suffocation, according to a study: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-p...-idUSKBN1FR3AW

    Reporting of suicides in Austria caused the practice of suicide by subway to become acceptable in the minds of many Austrians. When the newspapers stopped reporting on them, suicides dropped 75%. https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...77953694904472

    I'm certain I can find more studies. Do you have any supporting your position?

    ---------- Post added at 09:37 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:07 AM ----------

    Yaprak, thanks for participating. Unfortunately, everything you wrote appears to be opinion and conjecture, without any real facts.
    Last edited by evensaul; June 12th, 2018 at 11:21 AM.
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

  5. #5
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the suicide rate has increased 30% since 1999. The increase coincides with the increasing availability of news regarding celebrity suicides over the past twenty years. Just in the past few days, for example, we've had the highly publicized suicides of Spade and Bourdain. Simply put, many people are influenced by and try to emulate the actions of celebrities, and there is no reason to think suicide is an exception. Therefore, my position is that the deaths of celebrities should be reported without mention of suicide being the cause. Furthermore, Hollywood should refrain from including suicides in movies and tv shows, and schools should not assign the reading of Romeo and Juliet.
    Let's agree that suicide rates have increased over the past 30 years. I am curious about the rate going past 1999. Going back to 1950, the suicide rate is actually flat.
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/...er-since-1950/

    One then has to wonder what would happen if we went back even further. I'm sure there may be data somewhere, but what I did come across was suicide rates since 1950 for a subset of countries.
    https://ourworldindata.org/suicide

    Now, I don't want to pretend to be a statistician. So, I won't. What I would say here is that there is no evidence that celebrity suicides are more prevalent today than they were 40 or 50 years ago. Furthermore, even with the increase of attention on celebrity deaths, assuming that greater access to mass media would lend to increased attention, the suicide rate is roughly the same as it was back in 1950 (slightly lower). As such, there is absolutely no reason to whitewash celebrity suicides. There is no reason to refrain from showing suicides in movies and television. Finally, there is no reason to place a restriction on books that have suicide in their plots.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    In response to:
    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    everything you wrote appears to be opinion and conjecture, without any real facts.
    I shall provide some citations for the assertions essential to my claim.

    Firstly, suicide is caused by psychological problems--a fairly clear fact, no? This notion is supported by Lickerman, MD. Additionally, Sonia Chehil and Stanley P. Kutcher published a study in 2012 which found that having a mood disorder (especially major depressive or bipolar) increased the probability of suicide twenty times. To specify, by psychological problems, I am referring to not only diagnosable mental illnesses but other problems and issues associated with the mind and the emotions.

    The claim that publicized celebrity suicide brings suicide to the thoughts of the viewers of publicized media needs no further support; this debate is occurring on the rather axiomatic assumption.

    My next important assertion is that, if a person has a significant enough motivation to commit suicide, and they see a publication of a celebrity suicide, then their own suicide will come to their mind. This is not a definite fact, but if the thought of suicide does not arise from this, then there's no problem; the media hasn't indirectly coaxed them towards suicide. If the thought of suicide does arise, then the person will notice that they are thinking of suicide; it wouldn't operate unconsciously, because suicide is a conscious act. Although I do not have a specific citation for this, I am fairly certain that contemplation of suicide goes on for a considerable before the act, enough to realize that one is feeling suicidal. They will probably recognize their need for psychiatric care, and will probably talk to others about their issues if possible. This realization that one possesses motivation for suicide could then lead to the pursuit of therapeutic help, and hopefully a resolution of the factors motivating a suicide.

    My final paragraph is mostly opinion and postulation. However, it seem fairly reasonable that people without motivation to commit suicide would deem suicide adverse, and thus attempt to avoid it, and that when they are reminded of the act by the celebrity suicide, they may then initiate a temporary and variably thorough search for causes or triggers in their own life to resolve or avoid. To complement this, they may also use the remembrance of the possibility of suicide to "count their blessings;" to take stock of the goodness in their life, depending on their personality.

    Of course, I'm not arguing that publicized suicide does not introduce the thought of the suicide into people's minds, that fact is obvious. I am arguing that, instead of shying away from the darker side of life, the media and it's audience should take the opportunity to focus on the minimization of suicide, and use the examples provided by some celebrities to examine its causes with the goal of avoiding those causes in individuals. Is ignorance bliss? If you had a plumbing problem in your basement, wouldn't you rather know immediately, before your bar turns into a surf board?
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

  7. #7
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    What I would say here is that there is no evidence that celebrity suicides are more prevalent today than they were 40 or 50 years ago.
    My argument is that there is more reporting of celebrity suicides, not that more occur.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    Furthermore, even with the increase of attention on celebrity deaths, assuming that greater access to mass media would lend to increased attention, the suicide rate is roughly the same as it was back in 1950 (slightly lower). As such, there is absolutely no reason to whitewash celebrity suicides. There is no reason to refrain from showing suicides in movies and television. Finally, there is no reason to place a restriction on books that have suicide in their plots.
    If you're going to consider only the rate of suicide over the years, then those are all logical conclusions. But you're ignoring the significant and steadily increasing suicide prevention efforts over the past sixty years, including public service announcements, hot lines, support groups, and anti-depressant drug prescriptions. Either those efforts have had zero effect (which I doubt), or they have helped keep the suicide rate down when it otherwise would have risen.

    I think you've also completely ignored the conclusions of the studies I offered in my last post, and they pretty much refute your position on celebrity suicides. And the 75% reduction in suicides in Austria when they stopped being reported is hugely significant to this debate, because it supports the idea that if the media stopped reporting on suicides, the number would go down.

    Regarding books, movies and tv shows - do you think young impressionable minds are immune from negative effects of suicides as entertainment?

    ---------- Post added at 11:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:29 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by YaprakDolma View Post
    If the thought of suicide does arise, then the person will notice that they are thinking of suicide; it wouldn't operate unconsciously, because suicide is a conscious act. Although I do not have a specific citation for this, I am fairly certain that contemplation of suicide goes on for a considerable before the act, enough to realize that one is feeling suicidal. They will probably recognize their need for psychiatric care, and will probably talk to others about their issues if possible. This realization that one possesses motivation for suicide could then lead to the pursuit of therapeutic help, and hopefully a resolution of the factors motivating a suicide.
    Your argument seems to be that if impressionable minds are made to consider suicide, well, that's okay because there should be help available. That seems not very different from sabotaging a plane engine and rationalizing that the pilot should be able to land anyway. Or putting a poisonous snake in someone's house, and reasoning that they probably won't get bit and besides, the local hospital has snake serum. I could come up with a dozen more analogies, but I'm sure you get the point. I find your reasoning on this issue to be just horrible.
    Last edited by evensaul; June 15th, 2018 at 01:12 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    My argument is that there is more reporting of celebrity suicides, not that more occur.
    Fair enough. If that is your argument, then I'll consider that for your premise.

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    If you're going to consider only the rate of suicide over the years, then those are all logical conclusions. But you're ignoring the significant and steadily increasing suicide prevention efforts over the past sixty years, including public service announcements, hot lines, support groups, and anti-depressant drug prescriptions. Either those efforts have had zero effect (which I doubt), or they have helped keep the suicide rate down when it otherwise would have risen.
    Well, I think that is certainly an interesting assumption. And I can certainly understand how you arrive there. On the other hand, it could be that the tools we presume have been effective in treating suicide are either a) not very effective at all or b) becoming less effective. So, if you do, indeed, doubt that the tools we currently have aren't effective, could you not consider that they are becoming less effective? Certainly, if something as vague and abstract as celebrity suicides is rendering our tools insufficient, then I'd propose they may not have been good tools to treat suicide in the first place. I still don't accept your premise that celebrity suicides have much impact on suicide in general. In the one study you linked, it was really looking at copycat suicides. In other words, the people who committed suicide copied the method used by a celebrity, but that does not mean they wouldn't have committed it some other way anyhow. People like to dress like celebrities. However, if we stopped reporting what celebrities wore, it does not mean people would leave the house naked.

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    I think you've also completely ignored the conclusions of the studies I offered in my last post, and they pretty much refute your position on celebrity suicides. And the 75% reduction in suicides in Austria when they stopped being reported is hugely significant to this debate, because it supports the idea that if the media stopped reporting on suicides, the number would go down.
    The study you linked to that I read, reported decline in copycat suicides. Not suicides in general.

    Ultimately, what I am finding interesting is that you believe that, otherwise sane people could be tricked or persuaded into mental illness. After all, at its heart, suicide is a symptom of mental illness and not generally related to following celebrity trends. To believe or be convinced of your conclusion, you'd have to accept that we can, through a transfer of information, make someone mentally ill and I suspect you don't really believe that. And if you did believe it, you'd be absolutely wrong to do so. You'd actually be arguing that mental illness is a communicable disease passed through images and print and, to my knowledge, there isn't a single study on the planet which supports such a theory. Your other road of argumentation, I suppose, would be to attempt to disassociate suicide from mental illness altogether. However, this also seems like a stretch as all indications are that suicide is a symptom of some sort severe mental illness and absent of that illness, people generally do not kill themselves. You mention young and impressionable children. Even children, young and impressionable, have a survival instinct and aren't going to kill themselves without some sort of accompanying severe mental disorder. And if we are so out of ideas as to believe that rather than treating the disorder, that we'll reduce the stimuli, essentially trying to bubble wrap mental illness, then I think we've got much bigger fish to fry than pretending celebrities don't commit suicide.

    As an aside, and why this issue even matters is that once we agree that certain types of reporting should be forbidden, and we have seen this with the reporting of mass murderers, then we can see how we could apply this to all sorts of upsetting news for fear of it negatively impacting the masses. Should we determine this is somehow a public health issue and allow the government to set the rules, which I suspect is where this could go via regulatory bodies, particularly starting over public airwaves, we allowed a type of censorship to sneak in through the front door. Hardly a small matter.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Suicide Rate Increases 30% Since 1999

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    On the other hand, it could be that the tools we presume have been effective in treating suicide are either a) not very effective at all or b) becoming less effective. So, if you do, indeed, doubt that the tools we currently have aren't effective, could you not consider that they are becoming less effective?
    I think a decent analogy would be that of a reservoir dam. It works pretty well under normal conditions, but when there is a huge influx of water upstream and into the pool, the dam may be topped and breached. And a small free-running stream that has not seriously flooded in the past can become a dangerous torrent of water if there is extreme rainfall.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    Certainly, if something as vague and abstract as celebrity suicides is rendering our tools insufficient, then I'd propose they may not have been good tools to treat suicide in the first place.
    I don't think that is a logical conclusion. A person who is depressed and begins to seriously consider suicide as a result of ubiquitous reporting of a celebrity suicide may not be using any tools. An attempt at suicide can occur before any tools are used. And a suicidal person who is barely maintaining a grasp on life with the help of tools, can lose his grip if all day he hears about his favorite celebrity killing himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    I still don't accept your premise that celebrity suicides have much impact on suicide in general. In the one study you linked, it was really looking at copycat suicides. In other words, the people who committed suicide copied the method used by a celebrity, but that does not mean they wouldn't have committed it some other way anyhow.
    I think the studies make it clear that suicides increase with reports of suicides. And the decrease in suicides when reporting stopped in Austria is very significant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibelsd View Post
    People like to dress like celebrities. However, if we stopped reporting what celebrities wore, it does not mean people would leave the house naked.
    Right, if reporting of celebrity dress stopped, people would return to normal behavior. That's what would happen if reporting of celebrity suicide was voluntarily withheld. Depressed people would just continue with their lives.
    Last edited by evensaul; June 27th, 2018 at 09:26 AM.
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