Suicide and the copy cat effect

My next journal article in the field of suicidology address this very kind of suicide attempt. I examine the 7 types of suicide decisions for the thinking behind different motives people have for suicide. One of the decisions is

2. If things get too bad I will kill myself and others.

In this article I look at suicide and homicide. Whilst on the surface appearing quite disparate psychologically there are significant similarities between the two phenomena. In this way suicide is seen as simply the homicide of self. Both involve killing a person, for some to transition across both is understandable from a psychological perspective.

This comes from from the article

Another field of study has been epidemiological studies of homicide-suicide. These are people who commit homicide and shortly afterwards commit suicide. It is widely believed that such homicide-suicide has more in common with suicide than homicide, Saleva, Putkonen, Kiviruusu and Lonnqvist (2007), Milroy (1995) and Rosenbaum (1990). In essence homicide-suicide is seen as a subtype of suicide. The individual is already considering a suicide attempt and by murdering another first, they back themselves further into corner. If they do this, things have suddenly and dramatically changed such that their life will never be the same again. If they do not kill self and are caught they know they will spend a very long time in prison or may even receive the death penalty. If they are not caught they know they will be pursued with great vigour for a long period of time and so a normal life is no longer possible for them. A type of blurring of the lines between homicide and suicide. A person who is already feeling suicidal makes their life much much worse by committing a homicide which in turn furthers drives their suicidality. The aggressive urges against self and others become intertwined. (end quote).

Three common ways in which homicide-suicide can occur

Rampage shootings – such as Columbine High school killings

Terrorist activities – some terrorist attacks involve both homicide and suicide actions by the people involved

Motor vehicle accidents  – Some people repeatedly drive cars in a ways which the likelihood of killing self and/or others is significantly increased

It has long been known that press coverage of suicides can result in a spike in suicides after such reports especially when it is the suicide of a high profile person. There is seen to be a copy cat effect.

As we know when a terrorist attack occurs the press coverage is usually very wide and prolonged. Where there is a homicide – suicide component to the attack then it is quite possible this could lead to a copy cat effect from other suicidal individuals who also have the propensity to homicidal acts as well.

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