Suicide and Imitation of Mass Media


In 1974, the American sociologist David L. Phillips showed that publications of suicides on the frontpage of the New York Times 1948-1967 were followed by an increase in national suicide rates in the month after the publication. The validity of Phillips' research into the "Werther-effect" has been questioned in some subsequent research, but by and large the literature suggest that an imitation effect may occur, not only in the US, but also elsewhere. However, Kopping, Ganzeboom & Swanborn (1989) found no such effect in a large scale replication (30 years, three newspapers, over 350 publications) in the Netherlands.

Last update: February 22, 1997