Year: 2001 Source: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, v.31, no.4, (Winter 2001), p.460-466 SIEC No: 20020327

Nineteenth-century medical literature often admonished the popular press to limit reports of suicide because of a belief that knowledge of another’s suicide could stimulate some persons to kill themselves. An 1837 case report is discussed because it presciently clarifies the concept of psychological sensitization. Its study leads to documentation of 2 examples of falsified death certificates. Despite lack of success over the past two centuries, efforts to keep reports of self-inflicted death confidential continue to flow from concern about suicidal contagion. Today, uncensored websites & books advocating suicide may limit the benefit of the US Surgeon General’s “call to action” to prevent suicide, which again supports voluntary media restraint in reporting suicide. (38 refs.)