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Imitative parasuicide by overdose.
Williams, J.M.G., Lawton, C., Ellis, S., Walsh, S. & Reed, J.
Report to Independent Broadcasting Authority, July.
Year of publication:
Research on the precipitation of suicidal behaviour by exposure to such behaviour in the media is reviewed. Methodological problems in investigating these phenomena are discussed, including difficulties in defining imitative behaviour. Recent claims that an overdose on a TV soap opera (East Enders) caused imitative behaviour are evaluated in the light of data from two London hospitals which had reported increases in overdose cases following the programme. Little evidence for imitation was found in these cases. It is suggested, however, that the weight of evidence from other countries justifies caution by the Broadcasting Authorities in determining how such behaviour is presented.