(REUTERS) — Teens who have a classmate die of suicide are more likely to consider taking, or attempt to take, their own lives, according to a new study.

The idea that suicide might be “contagious” has been around for centuries, senior author Dr. Ian Colman, who studies mental health at the University of Ottawa, told Reuters Health.

Past studies supported the idea, but none had looked at such a large body of students, he said.

“There were a lot of surprising things about this study, we were surprised that the effect lasted so long and just how strong it was,” Colman said.

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