Suicides in US rose 10% after Robin Williams’ death, study finds

A 10% increase in suicides — nearly 2,000 additional deaths — was recorded in the United States in the four months after actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life in 2014, according to research published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

The “celebrity-suicide effect” — in which copycat suicides follow that of someone famous — has been documented in previous research.
“This is the first study to examine the consequences of a celebrity suicide in the digital era,” said David S. Fink, lead author of the new study and a post-doctoral researcher in epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
Williams, 63, was found dead in his Tiburon, California, home August 11, 2014, of what investigators suspected was a suicide by hanging.

Fink began his research by forecasting the number of suicides that could be expected to occur between August and December 2014. He and his colleagues analyzed monthly suicide rates in the United States, based on data gathered from January 1999 through December 2015 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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