A cluster of adolescent suicide attempts: is suicide contagious?

J Adolesc Health Care. 1983 Jan;3(4):253-5. doi: 10.1016/s0197-0070(83)80247-2.


Adolescent self-destructive behavior has increased during recent decades. Suicide now ranks third as a cause of death among older teenagers. Although recent studies have highlighted multiple risk factors for this behavior, little attention has been paid to the role of contagion as a possible cause for suicide attempts. Within a 6-month period, a small suburban community experienced two adolescent deaths from suicide followed by five attempts and an admission for suicidal ideation, within 7 weeks subsequent to the second fatality. The six patients were among a group of students from the same high school who not only related to each other during the school day but who also visited each other at the time of hospitalization for suicidal behavior. The possible role of suicidal behavior precipitating other self-destructive attempts within a peer group is explored. The development of strategies for dealing with issues of depression and suicide within a high-school environment may be needed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*