(Gizmodo) Robin Williams’s death by suicide in August 2014 was one that figuratively broke the hearts of people worldwide. But a new study published today in PLOS-One suggests that the salacious media coverage surrounding his death may have inadvertently inspired even more tragedy—and deaths— in its wake.
Researchers at Columbia University looked at suicide data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using it to create a predictive model of how many suicides should have occurred in the US in 2014, assuming it was a typical year. They also looked at the mentions of “suicide” and “Robin Williams” in news reports starting from June 2013 to December 2014.
For the months prior to William’s suicide, the model held up. But from August to December 2014, the number of actual suicides was considerably higher than it should have been, with the largest spikes seen soon after his death.