Re: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics

From: Kenneth Van Oost (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 10:38:13 BST

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    Subject: Re: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics
    Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 11:38:13 +0200
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 4:00 PM
    Subject: RE: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics

    Hi Vincent,

    I agree with Paul Marsden on this and thus disagree with your comments.
    Not entirely though. Kids commit suicide just as for the same reasons other
    people do it, but from my point of view you have to be aware of the fact,
    that kids with depression, psychological disorders and personal trauma's
    are not those we see as normal kids.
    As grown- ups we can 't in a sense understand what kids go trough, we
    see their problems through our parential eyes.
    The suicide proces of which I talked about in a previous post is one of
    the elements which we must account for to prevale kids from committing
    suicide. But how, if you don 't even see that the kid is in trouble !?
    Most of the time we see there is something going on at the time that those
    things are most likely irreversible.
    To know about the suicidal proces would help to understand and to help
    those kids before they commit suicide or tries to.
    Just for the record, In Brussels along (1999) between 800 and 1100
    yougsters tried to commit suicide. The age was between 12 and 19.

    You wrote,

    " But what won 't happen is that a non- suicidal ( or near suicidal person)
    will hear of a suicide and then go and commit it themselves. "

    << Not true, Vincent !
    A few years ago in Holland there was a serie of familiy- drama's, parents
    killed their children and committed suicide. 7 cases were accounted for
    when psychologistst warned the media to stop brieving about those.
    The same effect was playing here in Belgium. When a case popped up in
    the meadia, several others drama's maded to the news highlights.
    IMO a clear case of what you think won 't happen !
    The reason why people do that can easily be explained by suicide con-
    taigon elements playing their role but you seem to forget that people are
    still very aware of the group- mentality; the herd- instinct.

    The 7 cases mentioned above can be explained by this,
    1_ the people who killed their children and committed suicide, or did
    tried to in several cases ( what involves another explanation), BELONGED
    to a group.
    Remerber, groups are not ought to be very substantial elements, they
    can exists out of several loose parts which even don 't know if the other
    parts really exist.
    So, if that is the case, people will imitate the first case, which in itself
    needed a cultural/ psychological/ social trigger to start. In doing so,
    they will belong to the group where they are supposingly belong to.
    ( The cases where parents killed their children and tried to committed
    suicide belong to this category).
    Here you have IMO, a group of people scattered throughout the country/
    or countries with genetic/ biological/ social/ cultural/.... (f)actors/
    towards suicide ( depression, psychological disorders,...), they only need
    a test- case to start up themselves.

    2_ People who killed their children and committed suicide or tried to WANT
    to belong to a group. In that case they are infected by the suicide
    contaigon conditions/ memes. In those cases the people cried out for help.
    Nobody listened and by imitating other people they get the attention they

    _ Personally I have been always skeptical towards the parental reasons
    to kill their children. I know, this sounds a little bit out of order, but
    the beginning I counted in what you should could call a memetic pathogen.
    That would be the possibility that parents killed their children just for
    sake of it. Social/ political/ psychological/ cultural elements play a role
    this. Unemployment, repression, genetic depression, outcasts,... are
    reasons for parents to kill their children. Kill the children would be
    for the children... you see !
    Committing suicide would spirit away the real reason, and the attempts to
    commit suicide could be explained as some kind of penance.
    The imprisonment, the psychological testing can be seen as some kind of

    To further test those hypothesis we need more information, but for the
    moment it is difficult to get some. Depression, psychological disorders
    and personal trauma's are not quite really things where people like to
    talk about in public. To get more emperical data we need first to drag
    suicide out of the taboo corner.



    ( I am, because we are) obvious ourselves

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