Suicide Contagion: Is Media exposure the Reason behind more Suicide cases reported after Celebrity Suicide

Over the years, media has become so insensitive, bloodthirsty, bias, and irresponsible. In short a vehicle for fake reporting, paid promotion, and degradation. So much so, that they sometimes forget their responsibility.

Media considered as the mirror of Society, needs to Clean the fog from its own glass:

Since these media houses are well aware of their huge viewer base. They adopt all kinds of antics to keep their targeted audience, hooked onto their channel. Even if it means crossing their line.

Thereby, making the death of a public person, their golden opportunity to garner views and subscribers.

How media Exposure after Celebrity Suicide increases Suicide cases among Fans:

Recently, a promising, young, talented Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput has reportedly committed suicide. However, the cause of his death is making tables turn.

Because many of his fans, people from film fraternity and loved ones have alleged, that it was a planned murder. Hence, they are urging the case to be transferred from Mumbai Police to CBI.

The crude reporting of Media after a shocking Celebrity Suicide:

Since his demise, every media channel including print media, broadcast media, and outdoor media have blown this news.

Several media portals have made it their big story and their only subject to talk about. They are publishing his news continuously. Thereby, creating a sense of curiosity, tension, and aggression in the minds of the people.

Because fans are eager to know what happened, why did this happy go lucky person suddenly took his life.

Read: 5 Easy Ways to Burn Stress in the Comfort of your Room

People are leeching onto every piece of News available from various Sources:

Since we live in this digital world and have access to cheap internet. We are devouring every news. Most of which include, clickbait headlines using a morphed featured image of the subject.

Out of which most do not fact check, and others keep publishing the same news. Because they know their fans will read, view, and comment on it.

The more comments they get, the more YouTube/FB/Insta algorithm pushes it, and the news reaches more people and gets viral.

The Problem with rolling 24*7 news on Unnatural Deaths of famous Public Figures:

While there are tensions in the country due to border disputes. Along with recent terror threats, that 4-5 terrorists have sneaked from J&K and this creeping pandemic.

The media has chosen to harass the actor’s parents, who are stunned by their son’s early demise.

Their lack of empathy is evident from the quickness, they showed in thronging the actor’s home, after hearing the news.

Since then, they are busy Harassing the actor’s Family:

Well-reputed news daily and channels on social media platforms. Such as YouTube are bombarding people with every hypothesis related to the actor’s death.

They are providing half-baked information, and every condolence tweeted by his fellow actors.

Moreover, journalists are positioned at the late actor’s home, to cover the story of every celeb, visiting his family.

We all know that media guarantees openness of information, and freedom of coverage. But shoving your camera on a family that is mourning and begging you to leave. While you are bossing around to stay is sickening.

Also, circulating pictures of a hanged person, and leaking them for getting comments and shares is unjust.

How irresponsible Journalism instigates fans to Commit Suicide, after their fav Celeb’s demise:

Pictures of the actor’s body shrouded in white cloth. While it was being taken on a stretcher for further investigation were also circulated.

Journalists like vultures were recording every bit of the process until the actor got cremated.

Without realising that the actor had such a massive following. His fans worship him, and young artists look up to him for inspiration, and can go to any extent.

Sometimes the “Reel Hero” on the silver screen is actually a “Real Demon” in life:

Not to forget there are some toxic celebs with equally toxic and abusive fans. They support their messiah even if, he has been charged with cases of murder, blasts, harassment etc.

On the contrary, some actors have an influential personality, and people love them.

Watching such pictures, and restlessness of the media can persuade them to take extreme steps. Which happened in this case as well.

Read: How to raise an Empath Child + Parenting Tips

There’s even a Term for it, it’s called Suicide Contagion:

Do you wonder why people commit suicide, when news of their favourite celebrity, taking their own life circulates in the media? Then you should read about suicide contagion.

It refers to the phenomenon of indirect exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviours, influencing others to attempt suicide.

Researchers believe that suicide is known to have a “contagion effect.”

What is Suicide Contagion, and how Overexposure of Celebrity Suicide, increases Suicide cases:

It is no secret that mental health experts believe in the suicide contagion effect.

This occurs due to the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviours within one’s family or friend circle. Or through media broadcasting of suicide cases of famous personalities.

Therefore, when such cases arise, people with mental health problems, are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, and behaviours.

According to an article Published by TIME Magazine, some Researchers analysed and Came to know this:

They found that stories about celebrity suicides, headlines that included information, about how a suicide was completed. And statements that made suicide seem inevitable, were all correlated with suicide contagion.

(Other research backs this up: In the four months after Robin Williams’ highly publicized 2014 death by suicide, one study found a 10% increase in suicides across the U.S.)

Meanwhile, negative descriptions of suicide, and messages of hope, were associated with a protective effect. Though neither reached statistical significance. Perhaps because they appeared in articles so infrequently.

While another study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded, that some specific journalistic practices. Like providing details about a death by suicide, and glamorising such incidents, makes suicide contagion worse.

Dr. Ayal Schaffer, a Psychiatry Professor at the University of Toronto and a co-author of the New study, said:

We’re not saying reporting on suicide is bad. Our goal is not to blame journalists; it’s not to tell journalists how to do their jobs. But it is to provide a pretty strong research base, to support specific guidelines. about how reporting on suicide should be done.

Instead of Sensational reporting of Suicide cases, sensible Reporting should be done:

When this news spread like fire on every social media platform, and click-bait news started going viral. Other media portals followed the suit, by bringing every piece of info related to the suicide.

Sharing info about— how he took his life, his mental state, how his face looked like when he died, did he have any bruises, leaking his last-minute pictures etc. Without realising that children watch it too.

This is the reason, why some people get motivated to commit suicide, whenever such cases arise.

The race for Views after Celebrity Suicide:

Some journos, make it their sole motive to trigger the emotions of people. Which they do, by showcasing such info, without taking a break.

They keep serving the same content with different twists and turns. Because they don’t want the sudden hype to die off quickly.

The fun thing is that, all of this info isn’t summarised in 2 or 3 videos. But they smartly publish it, in a format of 15-20 small videos of a few secs or minutes, every day on their channel.

So viewers can share them, subscribe their channel, and wait for more information.

Read: 12 Hard Hitting Life Lessons Loneliness & Isolation is Bound to Teach You

Why such kind of Reporting needs to be Stopped:

Viewers think, media is concerned about the late actor. And what to give justice to him by sharing the truth. When in reality, they don’t.

Like in this case, a well-reputed news daily published his psychiatrist’s statement.

On knowing that it is illegal to publish such news. And it is against the doctor’s oath, to share info about his patient.

Later, the news portal had to delete it. As the doctor came forward and clarified the news was fake.

How to Differentiate between Right and Wrong:

If they were really concerned, then they should have spoken against the insensitive behaviour of the journalists. Who were deployed at the actor’s home, and should have warned other journos, from using pictures of his death.

Instead of flooding the internet with misleading information, discussions, and info from confirmed sources would have been welcomed.

Since well-researched info helps the investigators, to find out the hidden truth, if there is any, and educate others about it.

The Immoral and Insensitive Behaviour of the Media:

The day when this news came out, my YouTube was flooded with such news. Even when I don’t watch movies and follow any famous actor or actresses.

But when I saw this news, I too felt bad, since the deceased actor was a gem in a coal mine.

He was a down-to-earth person, and a seeker of knowledge. The actor was passionate for his craft and unravelling the mysteries of Quantum Physics. Which made him a rare species amongst the dumdums.

Therefore, I watched the first two videos, that were recommended to me by YouTube.

After watching that, my entire page, notifications were filled with his news. Most of which were presented in a bad taste.

How media Violates privacy, and uses Pictures of the deceased for Commercial Purposes:

Many channels used his pictures from the death spot without blurring it.

When an adult was affected by it, children, and his dedicated fans. Along with those who are already depressed, and are having panic attacks in this pandemic, could have felt worse.

Because the kind of strategy they were adopting to get views. By not providing the information in a single video, and making tens and hundreds of videos in a day.

Consequently, 6 or 7 of his fans committed suicide but the cases could be more. Because not everything gets recorded, especially in rural areas, where the population is scarce.

How media sells their Soul for making Money by Forgetting their Responsibilities:

The media fraternity didn’t stop here. They went ahead to share the numbers, age and even used fake photos of his fans, who committed suicide.

From past 5-6 days, such news is being recorded. Some of the channels are sharing stories, and the last words of his fans. By doing this, they are persuading other clinically depressed people, to take such steps.

Since they were reporting, like they were on ground zero, sharing every bit of news about the war.

What Media fails to Understand and Why they are also Responsible for such Deaths:

Since media works in the public domain, and is always on the forefront, to become the unbiased grapevine of communication.

They compete with each other to bring all the latest news and updates. However, media houses often forget, they have some responsibilities at hand, and they should oblige them.

For instance, whenever any famous TV personality, musician, or actor commits suicide.

They keep rolling the news about them for days, weeks and, even dedicate an entire month to it. Because they know how to channelise, and monetise the emotions of the public.

How safe Reporting of Suicide cases, Parental advice, and Regulation can prevent Suicide Contagion:

Since public figures have a loyal fan base. So in the case of unnatural deaths, leaking such info of celebs can shatter them. Therefore, some precautions and prohibitions are needed, such as:

  • Prohibition on using last-minute pictures from the death scene.
  • Using morphed images, showing bloodstains, and providing false information, regarding the case.
  • Circulating pictures of the deceased person with close-ups of face and body.
  • Leaking pictures, info, and count of fans who have committed suicide, after hearing the news.
  • Spreading fake information on celebrity suicide, and harassing their family members.
  • Not over-consuming such information and,
  • Not over-exposing your children with such info, especially if they are hypersensitive.

Read: How to achieve Solitude in a World full of Clamour

Why people Commit Suicide when their Favourite celebrity dies, and the Psychology behind it:

People all over the world, have a craze for actors and pop artists. But it is the media, that bestows the title of stars on them, and helps in making, their larger than life image.

Since understand how far fans can go to see, meet, and connect with their fav celeb.

But the irony is, when such cases happen, they don’t think twice, what such loyal fan following can do. When they will see such raw-groundbreaking reporting.

Some fans take the extreme step, because they see them daily on TV, magazine, newspaper, and social media.

It’s like a breakup, an end of relationship with your fav person.

Fans get used to seeing their fav star, and the name of that celeb becomes a household name. Because they keep talking about them.

When the Present-continuous Virtual reality ends:

Another big role of the PR is to make the interviews of “stars” viral. Now it’s common to see celebs sharing their own memes, connecting with fans through live chat, and showing their affection for them.

Therefore, when their favourite celeb ends their life. Some fans feel, they have no purpose of living because they will no longer see them. And the person, who they loved, were a fan of, have taken the plug off.

Therefore, they cannot fathom the thought and the pain, which pushed that person to end life. Thinking that having all the luxuries, success, and love in life, how can someone take such a step?

Depression and Existentialism:

On the other hand, when people who are deep into the pit of depression, hear such things. They feel they will never come out of it.

Those with personal, financial, existential, or any other mental suffering, see that deceased person as a source of inspiration. Hence, they get motivated to take such a step.

Existentialists, on the other hand, will see that person as a role model, who has ended the cycle of suffering. And is now liberated from his duties and the struggle of being alive.

A Word of advice for People with Mental Health issues, Consuming such content:

In this pandemic, when some people are already stressed. Don’t overfeed your brain with things, that can aggravate you.

Watching such sensational reporting can make you more anxious and vulnerable. As it stimulates all the senses.

As an audience, it’s on you to not over-watch such content. Because not every piece of information has a reliable source.

Don’t rely on social media for news, chose print media like the newspaper for new updates.

If you care about a person and are a dedicated follower, then wait for the investigation to get over. Because it is the Police or CBI that shares the last word, and insights of such cases.

If you are feeling down, then here’s a bouquet of words by Mouloud Benzadi:

“When the pretty birds have flown,
And you feel hurt and alone,
Be strong and carry on,
And remember that life goes on.”

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Let thy spirit be high in love. Namaste

This post was last modified on July 5, 2020 11:40 am

Pragati Chauhan

I am a soulful woman who loves to conjure up my thoughts and write. I thoroughly enjoy creating art and expressing myself through words. I believe words have a certain kind of melody that can be understood by everybody.