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How to Stop “Suicide Contagion” From Making Another Tyler Clementi Happen

Suicides like Tyler Clementi (and Zach Harrington, and Brandon Bitner, and Seth Walsh, and Lance Lundsten, and Veronica Baxter) don’t just happen spontaneously. Whether it’s bullying, depression, the media, or a mix of a dozen different factors, there’s a whole big wide world of contributing causes to every tragedy. And sometimes, one incident can trigger another … and another … and so on.

So how do we stop those dominoes from falling? The key is putting an end to “suicide contagion.” And a new factsheet from a coalition of LGBT organization offers tips for doing just that.

Among the highlights: don’t say “successful suicide,” remind people about all the resources available to people contemplating suicide, and don’t act like suicide is an inescapable consequence of bullying.

These tips are designed mostly for the media, but it’s also a handy lesson for your conversations on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace and Compuserve. Go read the whole thing.

(And PS: next time you ask what groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have done for us lately, well, here’s one answer.)

On:           May 30, 2011
Tagged: , , , ,
    • Brandon h

      Since when did queerty become an HRC apologist?

      May 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rarr

      you have a typo
      get a fucking copy editor

      May 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C

      No evidence exists for suicide contagion/copycat suicides for LGBT suicides. It’s a theory suggested by conservative critics of those who report on LGBT suicides. Increased reporting is mistakenly interpreted as suicide contagion.

      Fear of contagian results in suppression of reporting of LBGT suicides.

      Evidence should be the basis of action, not fear.

      May 30, 2011 at 10:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Abel

      I have a question about the Tyler Clementi case. Has the guy Tyler was having sex with been identified? Has he spoken out? You never hear anything about him.

      May 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • matt baume

      @rarr: Your mom had a typo.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darkness

      @rarr: And you have:
      1. No manners
      2. No punctuation
      3. Poor sentence structure

      May 31, 2011 at 6:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • meego

      By sending Dharun Ravi to jail for the next 20 years. That ought to set a good example!

      May 31, 2011 at 6:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Samwise

      @Kev C: Suicide contagion as a sociological concept has been around for decades. It’s not something an anti-gay jerk cooked up in the last few years: it’s widely accepted, mainstream social science. Maybe some homophobe has used it as an excuse to argue that we shouldn’t talk about gay teen suicides at all, but normally the argument is that stories about suicides should be *modified* so as not to romanticize the victim.

      May 31, 2011 at 8:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C

      @Samwise: Yes, I’m aware the theory has been around since cases of copycat suicides have occurred. But the evidence shows that contagion was not a factor in recent gay bullycides. School bullying is the problem and we should never forget that.

      May 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dasster

      It’s a lifestyle/culture issue. No one’s guilty of a crime here. If a student gets into relationships like this in school, it will lead to problems. A school isn’t a recreational center.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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