Suicide Contagion is Real

One suicide begets another, a study in Canada has demonstrated. From the Ottawa Citizen story:

That suicide is contagious is a widely held–and controversial–theory. A groundbreaking new study co-authored by a University of Ottawa researchers has found that teens who know of a schoolmate who died of suicide are far more likely to think about or attempt suicide than those with no “exposure.” ”It’s solid evidence that supports a theory that has been around for a long time–that suicide contagion is real,” says Dr. Ian Colman, Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, who wrote the paper with Sonja Swanson of the Harvard School of Public Health. “I hope schools and school boards take it seriously.”

Me too, but not just schools–although the suicides by teenagers are particularly tragic.

If suicide is “contagious” than so too assisted suicide–which is actively promoted far and wide in the media as “taking control” or “death with dignity.” Indeed, the infectious effect could even be more penetrating throughout general society: When a state or country legalizes assisted suicide/euthanasia, the culture is explicitly stating that some self-killings are A-OK. 

If my suspicions are correct, the recent spike in suicides–especially bad in Oregon–may at least be indirectly fueled by assisted suicide advocacy–which is actually suicide promotion. In this sense, why are we surprised when an increasingly a pro-suicide culture has a general problem with suicide.  At the very least, it does nothing to abate or reduce the problem.  

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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