Title

Are Written Reports of Suicide and Seeking Help Contagious? High Schoolers' Perceptions

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-16-1991

Department

Psychology

Abstract

To assess contagion for suicide and seeking mental health help, 128 high school students read a short vignette about a teen under stress. Half of them were told that this teen knew someone in the community who had similar problems and had committed suicide, and half were told that the teen knew someone in the community who had similar problems and had sought help from a mental health professional. A 2 (Gender of Respondent) × 2 (Gender of Victim) × 2 (Vignette: Response to Stress) analysis of variance indicated a significant main effect for response, and a significant two-way interaction for gender of respondent and response to stress. These high school students thought contagion occurred for suicide as well as seeking mental health help. Girls tended to be more responsive to seeking help, whereas boys were slightly more responsive to suicide. An implication is that publicity about seeking help may ameliorate suicidal contagion.

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Social Psychology

Volume

21

Issue

18

First Page

1517

Last Page

1523