Celebrity suicide: Did the death of Kurt Cobain influence young suicides in Australia?

Flinders Medical Centre
Archives of Suicide Research (Impact Factor: 1.64). 08/1997; 3(3):187-198. DOI: 10.1023/A:1009629219195

ABSTRACT This study examined the total rate of suicide in Australia for young people (aged 15–19 and 20–24 years) for the 30 day period after the announcement of Kurt Cobain''s suicide in 1994, comparing with the identical period for the previous five years and accounting for unequal variability in weekends, Mondays and public holidays. The 1994 rates for male suicides for both age groups were lower than for 1992 and 1993, and were more similar to the 1990 rates. Female rates showed a steady small decline over the five years, sustained in 1994. Rates overall showed a reduction in all of the first five, ten and fifteen day rates, compared with previous years. There was no evidence of any increase in deaths from gunshot, the method used by Cobain. The conclusion appears to be that this celebrity suicide had little impact on suicide in young persons in Australia. Possible reasons for this are discussed.

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    • "Daily counts of suicide deaths were aggregated into periods of 30 days (or 31 days, depending on the current months involved in the period) in order to capture any delayed effect due to media stimuli (Martin & Koo, 1997 ; Maris, 2002). Each period was defined from the day after the announcement of the celebrity death. "
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