fall 2006

The Suicide Contagion at New York University


The idea of a suicide contagion is that when a suicide occurs in a community it may encourage other members of that community to commit suicide. A suicide contagion may also be referred to a cluster of suicides. In a report published by the New York State Office of Mental Health in 2004, they discussed the idea of a suicide contagion as a special risk factor for college students. The report said, “College students appear to be particularly susceptible to suicide contagion/imitation. In recent years, a number of suicide clusters, usually involving jumping from heights, have been reported on college campuses. Within New York State, apparent suicide clusters have occurred at Cornell University and New York University.” The cluster of suicides at NYU occurred during the 2003-2004 academic year and was heavily publicized by the media. This episode of a suicide cluster instilled much fear in the NYU administration.

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