From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 07:11:36 GMT

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    Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 02:11:36 -0500
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    >Right. For a causal relation to be suspected the "caused" event
    >must happen later in time, and the alternative of both being caused
    >by some unknown event must be ruled out or at least considered
    >unlikely. I consider it possible but unlikely that the spike in
    >suicides following media reports has a common relation to some
    >unknown event. Do you have a different opinion?

    Black Friday. Ease of access to guns. "Disintegration of family
    values." Even in the whole "going postal" thing there was some
    discussion of the "corporate culture" of the USPS which lead to
    greater employee stress and unhappiness. The media reports confound
    the issue, because you don't know whether or not the suicides would
    have happened if it weren't reported. I don't think there is ever an
    instance where someone commits suicide only because of the media,
    there is usually other stuff going on in their life. And there are
    certainly forces which effect large populations, so they are
    happening in many people's lives simultaneously. This starts to
    sound like my history class: sufficient causes, final causes and
    contributing causes. It's rarely an all-or-nothing matter.

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