Psychiatry Investig.  2015 Apr;12(2):204-211. 10.4306/pi.2015.12.2.204.

Celebrity Suicides and Their Differential Influence on Suicides in the General Population: A National Population-Based Study in Korea

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Depression Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • 2Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
  • 3Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 4Department of Clinical Research Design and Evaluation and Department of Medical Device Management and Research, Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Sciences & Technology (SAIHST), Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Although evidence suggests that there is an increase in suicide rates in the general population following celebrity suicide, the rates are heterogeneous across celebrities and countries. It is unclear which is the more vulnerable population according to the effect sizes of celebrity suicides to general population.
All suicide victims in the general population verified by the Korea National Statistical Office and suicides of celebrity in South Korea were included for 7 years from 2005 to 2011. Effect sizes were estimated by comparing rates of suicide in the population one month before and after each celebrity suicide. The associations between suicide victims and celebrities were examined.
Among 94,845 suicide victims, 17,209 completed suicide within one month after 13 celebrity suicides. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that suicide victims who died after celebrity suicide were significantly likely to be of age 20-39, female, and to die by hanging. These qualities were more strongly associated among those who followed celebrity suicide with intermediate and high effect sizes than lower. Younger suicide victims were significantly associated with higher effect size, female gender, white collar employment, unmarried status, higher education, death by hanging, and night-time death. Characteristics of celebrities were significantly associated with those of general population in hanging method and gender.
Individuals who commit suicide after a celebrity suicide are likely to be younger, female, and prefer hanging as method of suicide, which are more strongly associated in higher effect sizes of celebrity suicide.


Celebrity; Suicide; South Korea; Effect size
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