Year: 2021 Source: Academic Psychiatry. (2020). 44, 237–241. SIEC No: 20210563

The media is often perceived as portraying psychiatric illness in a negative, stigmatizing, and even dangerous fashion [1]. In the case of suicide, it has long been documented that media reporting of celebrity suicides can lead to an augmentation in copycat suicides, a phenomenon historically known as the Werther effect [2]. After the highly publicized suicide of the actor Robin Williams, the average suicide rate increased from 113–117 to 142 suicide deaths per day. In addition, among the individuals who died by suicide immediately after the actor’s death, around two-thirds of them used a method identical to that of Williams [3]. In contrast, calls for help also increase after celebrity deaths by suicide. The day after the death of Williams, calls placed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) increased by 300% [3], suggesting that media reporting of celebrity suicides may also promote help-seeking.