Suicide Contagion and Clusters—Part 1: What School Psychologists Should Know
The suicide of a student has a rippling effect in the school environment as well as in the greater community, as a single adolescent death by suicide increases the risk of additional suicides. The process by which a completed suicide (or at times, suicidal behavior) increases the suicidal behavior of others is called contagion. When multiple suicides occur close in time and geographical area, at a rate greater than normally would be expected in a given community, it is considered a cluster (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 1988).
Adolescents are the most susceptible age group for imitating suicidal behavior; therefore, discussions of contagion often center on prevention efforts in the school environment, necessitating that school psychologists play a central role. Approximately 1–5% of teen suicides occur in a cluster after a youth dies by suicide (Gould & Lake, 2013). Though rare, contagion results in approximately 100–200 seemingly preventable deaths annually.
(2019). Suicide Contagion and Clusters—Part 1: What School Psychologists Should Know. NASP Communiqué, 47(5), 21-23.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cps_facarticles/1709