How Preventing One Suicide Can Save Many Lives

Recent research shows that suicidal behavior is a social contagion that spreads through families and classrooms. The good news? So does suicide prevention.

Much of the research on suicide prevention focuses on individual risk factors—but what about suicide as a social contagion? Professor Jason Fletcher and colleagues decided to examine the social processes related to suicide and found that it spreads through families, and spills over into classrooms—and, most intriguingly, that it moves along gender lines. This seems like terrible news, but discovering this mechanism actually has policy implications for suicide prevention: "Successful suicide prevention programs have this potential for spilling over on people who aren’t treated themselves or who aren’t intervened on themselves," Fletcher says. Preventing one suicide in a family can reduce the likelihood of an attempt for an adolescent within that family, but also for the adolescent’s classmates—that's a pretty astonishing finding. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741, and to find support for yourself or a loved on, reach out to someone at The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention . This video was filmed as part of the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism.

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Gun Violence Spreads Like Infectious Disease, says Yale Professor

A new Yale-Harvard study categorizes gun violence as a social contagion and a public health epidemic. If nothing changes, over 33,000 people will die at the end of a gun this year in the United States.

 

 

Close contact to guns through family or acquaintances puts you naturally closer to gun violence. (Photo: Getty Images)

A study published in JAMA claims gun violence spreads like an infectious disease. The research team – Yale Sociology professor Andrew Papachristos and Harvard students Ben Green and Thibault – looked at over 11,000 shootings in Chicago from 2006 – 2014. The researchers concluded that gun use spreads like a virus due to social affiliation with others, with Papachristos telling Gizmodo“You don’t catch a bullet like you catch a cold, [but] the power of this analogy is really thinking about the precision with which it moves through a population.”

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