Year: 2017 Source: Health Communication.(2016).doi:10.1080/10410236.2015.1056329 SIEC No: 20170306

Young adults (N = 357) were surveyed following the suicide of celebrity Robin Williams to better
understand how involvement with the actor and emotional responses to his death influenced searches
for information concerning depression, suicide, and mental health. Emotional distress following the
actor’s death mediated the relationship between involvement and certain types of information searches.
Most respondents sought information about the celebrity’s career, suicide, and depression using
portable devices such as smartphones and laptop computers to access news websites for information.
Those respondents who sought information about the suicide reported changes in their thoughts about
suicide, most often dealing with the difficulty in spotting warning signs and the idea that “it can happen
to anyone.” Findings suggest placement of health messages within existing material about celebrity
announcements on online websites and social media to drive more traffic toward general informational
outlets. Messages that acknowledge emotional distress might be best placed within content specific to
the celebrity’s tragedy, rather than specific to the celebrity’s career or performances.