Expert: Suicide Can Be Contagious Among Teens

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The suicides of two 14-year-old girls in Marshall over the weekend have become the second incident of teen suicide in Minnesota in recent weeks.

Earlier in April, 15-year-old Halee Lucas and 18-year-old Zach Jones, both of the New London-Spicer area, took their lives.

With all of the media exposure and attention paid to the deceased, experts warn that suicide may become contagious among young people.

“Suicide contagion does happen,” said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), who is advising the Marshall School District on how to deal with its incident.

“It is a real factor; it is especially common amongst youth,”  Reidenberg said.

He said that it is not recommend that communities hold memorials for people who commit suicide. The reason for this is that those who might be at the risk of attempting suicide may misinterpret the memorials as chance at immortality, not grasping the finality of killing themselves.

“They don’t often realize that [suicide] is a permanent solution to a very temporary problem,” Reidenberg said.

He also said 90 percent of the people who kill themselves suffer from a mental illness and that is why understanding the warning signs of suicide is so important.

To watch WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy interview Reidenberg, click the link below.

Web Extra: Doctor Talks About Teen Suicide

More from Esme Murphy
  • uknow

    u know wat can be contagious drug

    • Dave

      r u stoopid?

    • Greg

      I feel the media should just quit reporting any shootings or suicides involving kids.They are prone to copy cat behavior and maybe the media contributes to that.

  • Tom Portel

    It’s all because of “Minnesota Nice.” Believe it! This state is a FRAUD!

    • Deb

      perhaps you should move? See ya!

      • cycle with love

        Don’t worry…coaxing is NOT needed…it’s in the works! “See ya!”

    • Good luck just had to find any opportunity to express your contempt. Seriously..on an article about teen suicide?

      Here’s a thought….

      …maybe it’s not the state. Could it just be you and people don’t like you? Tends to happen when people are inconsiderate jerks. Just a thought.

  • Crew

    Having attended a funeral today for someone who committed suicide, I tend to disagree. Maybe the data reflects something different, but a service, gathering, memorial allows friends and family to console one another. It gives some peace in a situation that is often seen as taboo. Was I unsure if the 500 mile drive home for the funeral was the right choice? Last night, it was hard to say. But 24 hours later I can share it was.

    • Thekhanvict

      Big difference between a funeral (which should be held for anyone) and a community memorial which would invite people who may not have known the person.

    • astounded

      Thank you for disagreeing with this interview. I feel that if this doctor has ever lost a child; he would have shut his mouth. It is very disresepctful for him to state that there shouldn’t be a service or memorial. These are young kids who died way too soon – and thier friends and family need to be able to mourn and support each other. I do see the point of suicide being “contaigous” but I feel that if the communities handled the situations right – both awareness and grieving could happen side by side. I am astounded he had the nerve to say this in the midst of all of these grieving families.

  • Mjc

    Really? If you people have nothing good to say keep your mouth shut, this is horrible and peopl like you are half the problem. My thought and prayers go to all the families<3

    • Betty

      Well said Mjc….

    • cycle with love

      “…bad parenting…”:

      We can never know what ‘lurks’ in the minds of others. In short: a parent’s ‘best’ may not be enough.

    • AN

      It states in the article that mental illness is the cause of 90 percent of all suicides. Anyone can suffer from depression it’s not bad parenting it’s an actual chemical imbalance in the brain. The Marshall community, friends, and families of these children are going though enough already without your negative comments. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marshall area and anyone who is grieving with death caused by suicide.

      • Rusty Shackelford

        What were the suicide rates before the invention of depression. Life isn’t found in articles.

  • BeNiceDamnIt!

    it doesn’t help that teens go through incredible amounts of bullying and similar emotional torture not only at school but through the internet also. kids are soooo mean these days and it just blows my mind.

  • Marsha

    I had a relative kill herself in her senior year. Very sad, there are no answers to why. Depression is very hard to deal with at a very young age. My heart and prayers go out to the families of both children. Hopefully the families can go on with out guilt. Because if they keep trying to say if I would have done that differently they will drive themselves into depression. Like I said pray for the families.

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