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

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Feb;47(2):215-21. doi: 10.1007/s00127-010-0331-y. Epub 2010 Dec 17.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / mortality
  • Charcoal / poisoning
  • Famous Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / classification
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / trends
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Charcoal