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

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri Apr 20 2001 - 10:47:23 BST

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science"

    Received: by id KAA16165 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Fri, 20 Apr 2001 10:50:55 +0100
    Message-ID: <>
    From: Vincent Campbell <>
    To: "''" <>
    Subject: RE: Is Suicide Contagious? A Case Study in Applied Memetics
    Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 10:47:23 +0100
    X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
    Content-Type: text/plain
    Precedence: bulk

    >>My beef
    >>is in relation to the mediation part of the issue- that mediated
    >>(e.g. press reports, or TV dramatisations) lead to suicides in
    >>non-suicidal people.

            <One wonders if non-suicidal people _ever_ commit suicide? It seems
    > impossible- it is certainly unlogical semantically.>
            I take the point. Indeed, it's kind of what I meant. There has
    been an assumption in some contagion research that the same actions are
    caused by the same factor (or factors), hence notions that a mediated
    suicide increases rates of actual suicide_because_ all those subsequent
    suicides were exposed to that mediated suicide, and people became suicidal
    as a result. What doesn't seem to be explicated by such a view is what
    about the state of mind of the people who commit the subsequent acts. Isn't
    it highly likely that these people were suicidal already, or at best near
    suicidal, since as you rightly say non-suicidal people generally don't try
    and commit suicide? That's why the vast majority of us don't top ourselves
    or kill people when we encounter mediated suicde and murder. Mediated
    suicide then isn't a causal factor in suicidal states of mind.

            <Japan has a long and traditional culture of suicide, and there is
    > 'honor' code among european males to remove themselves from disgrace in
    > this fashion. The typical last scene with the off-stage gunshot....
    > Places of high expectation, graduate schools, etc., have long histories
    > of student suicides, until recently actively suppressed in the media (at
    > least at Harvard and at MIT), but, continuing and constant with a
    > reliable frequency nonetheless.>
            Absolutely. I think things like Seppuku, or suicide rates in
    military academies, and the like would be more relevant to talk about in
    this kind of debate.

            Your own responses to suicide are extremely valid I think.


    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 20 2001 - 10:55:01 BST