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                                                                                Suicide and Hypnosis:

Hypnotist Principal Faces Questions After Suicides

However, No One Is Discussing “Suicide Contagion”


By Devin Hastings, author of Anxiety, OCD and Hypnosis: New Answers For Those Who Suffer In Silence


(To read a news story about what is happening, click on the above "Hypnotist Principal" link in blue.  Or Google "Hypnotist Principal")






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This case of an obviously well-meaning and deeply caring Florida high school principal has been reduced to a ridiculous event of ‘sensationalist trial by media’ where the rule is: “You shall have a fair trial, be executed by uninformed public opinion and then allowed to defend yourself.”


Here is a truth (which is conveniently ignored by some of the foxing media although Mitch Stacy of the Associated Press did a nice job): Being hypnotized simply cannot make someone kill themselves


To imply so with a sensationalist news title is irresponsible and a display of ignorance.  Furthermore, where is the proof that hypnosis can make a person kill themselves?  There never has been and never will be one shred of evidence that being hypnotized can cause someone to suicide.  


Also ask yourself: Where is the proof that hypnosis can positively change and in many cases, save lives?  One place to look is in the book “21st Century Medicine: Clinical Evidence For The Healing Power Of The Mind.”


By the way, as you’re reading this, do you know what hypnosis really is?  Probably not. 


I bet none of the bone-heads who left “educationally under-funded” comments on all the stories about Dr. George Kenney have even the faintest idea of what hypnosis really is.


Seriously.  What do they really know?  I once heard someone say: “Do NOT passionately talk about something you know nothing about.”


Please let me ask you a question: If hypnosis can make a person do what they don’t want to do, why are our soldiers needlessly and oh so tragically getting wounded and/or dying in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Couldn't we instead just hypnotize the so-called enemy into killing themselves?

For that matter, why do we have jails?  If hypnosis could make someone kill themselves then certainly it could turn offenders into law abiding citizens? 


Not one media outlet I have seen so far has discussed the very real and clinically recognized concept of suicide contagion which is a significant contributing factor that is largely responsible for the Florida high school suicides (and many, many others.) 


Instead, what these pablum spewing, irresponsible, educationally under-funded, so-called “news” agencies are focusing on is the sensationalist aspect of the suicide(s) which is doing a huge disservice to the public they supposedly serve.  


And they are persecuting a good man.  Never mind the unfathomable pain they are partially responsible for causing the parents of vulnerable children who were or will be pushed over the cliff into suicide by an irresponsibly publicized suicide event.  


I spoke to a very level-headed person today who told me about 6 kids in his high school killing themselves and how he was so upset by the suicides that the thought of killing himself seriously crossed his mind even though he is an exceptionally well-grounded person and he had no real reason or desire to kill himself.  


Do you think that seeing those high school suicides on TV, newspaper and hearing about them on the radio did this person any good?  How much courage and strength did it take him to resist the very real social force of “Kindred Hari-Kari”?  Enormous courage.  And rare.


Think of the times when you have felt absolutely terrible in your life.  What do imagine could have happened if you had read about/seen/heard about someone socially close to you doing something to end their pain which was similar to yours?


Question: Do you know about “Suicide Contagion”?  It's also known as “Copycat Suicide”.  You should read the following eye-popping article: "Copycat suicides fuelled by media reports".


In short, a copycat suicide is defined as a copying of a suicide by a person who attempted or succeeded (success?) in killing themselves. 


The potential suicide victim knows about the suicide either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media.


Dear Media Outlets: Every time you report someone’s suicide in a sensationalist, educationally under-funded manner, you are very likely contributing to another suicide.  Remember this please before you get “excited” about a suicide story.


For Your Information: a wave of emulation suicides that follow after a widely publicized suicide is also known as the Werther effect.  This description is based on the numerous suicides that followed the publication of Goethe's novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”.


What the Werther Effect means is that the sensationally published suicide serves as a model, in the absence of preventative factors, for additional suicides.


Also know that suicides can, and usually do, spread through a school system, through a community, or in terms of a celebrity suicide wave, nationally.


Please, reporters and media outlets, please, in the sake of good journalism, do your research and remember your influence and responsibility.  


How many kids might still be alive if they realized that what they were feeling was due in large part to a social influence that had no bearing on their actual lives?  But who is telling them about this?  No one so far.


Think. Share the truth. Save Lives.  Do the right thing.  Please.


Devin Hastings 

President of the MN. Institute of Advanced Communication Skills, a Minnesota based hypnosis and NLP school



Copycat suicides fuelled by media reports

A COMPUTER simulation has provided a better understanding of copycat suicides.

It's a phenomenon well known to sociologists, who have identified two different forms. In "point clusters" individuals copy others in their social grouping who have killed themselves, while in "mass clusters", people kill themselves around the same time though not in the same place, in response to media reporting of celebrity suicides.

However, researchers have found it difficult to study all the social influences acting on those who have already taken their own lives.

To deal with this problem, Alex Mesoudi of Queen Mary University, London, developed a computer model of a community of 1000 people, to examine how copycat suicides occur.

These were divided into 100 groups of 10, in a model designed to represent different levels of social organisation, such as schools or hospitals within a town or towns within a state.

Celebrity and media

Individual "people" were programmed to react as realistically as possible to the influence of their friends, celebrities and the media.

For example, differing suicide risks were programmed into the model. One US study found that men were 3.9 times more likely to commit suicide as women, white people 2.2 times more likely to do so than non-whites, and over 65s to be 1.5 times more likely to kill themselves as 15- to 24-year-olds.

Other parameters, such as how individuals pick up information from their social networks, communities and the media were also included.

Real "simulation"

Mesoudi then cycled the simulation through 100 generations. He found the simulated people acted just as sociologists' theory predicted.

They were more likely to commit suicide in clusters, either because they had learned this trait from their friends, or because suicidal people are more likely to associate together.

"This is a general phenomenon," says Mesoudi. "Think of an American college: the jocks will group together and so will the goths."

Mesoudi found that the mass media played an important role in either encouraging or discouraging copycat suicides.

Mass reporting

Numerous celebrity suicides have been linked with increased national suicide rates. After Marilyn Monroe took a sleeping pill overdose in 1962, researchers pointed to her death as a trigger for a 12 per cent rise in people in the US taking their own lives during the following month.

"As society becomes more focused on celebrities, and more celebrities are generated by programmes like Big Brother, the problem might get worse," says Mesoudi.

The media in Austria, Switzerland and Australia have strict guidelines governing the way in which suicides are reported, to avoid publicising how suicides have been committed and to avoid their "glorification" (see Austria's guidelines, PDF).

"The computer simulations strongly support the proposed link between the mass reporting of a prestigious celebrity's suicide and an increase in national suicide figures," Mesoudi says.

"This highlights the need for media guidelines that restrict the dissemination and glorification of suicides, as already introduced in many countries."

Journal reference: PLoS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007252


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