In the Media

Community Suicide Prevention Group

In the Media

A Suicidologist’s New Challenge: The George Washington Bridge
The New York Times
August 19, 2016

"For the past 30 years, Dr. Gould has plumbed the depths of despair, searching for ways to prevent what has exploded into one of the most significant public health threats facing young people: suicide. She is one of the country’s leading experts in its prevention and causes, and her research undergirds much of the modern thinking on the topic, including the phenomenon of suicide contagion."

Mass Killings May Have Created Contagion, Feeding on Itself
The New York Times
July 26, 2016

Highly publicized media coverage of violence or terrorist attacks in public spaces might be giving troubled people already contemplating violence a spur to act, caused by a form of contagion. “Those of us in this field, it’s the first thing we think about when we read accounts of these recent mass murders: The detailed coverage of terrorist attacks may be giving people who are vulnerable or thinking along these line ideas about what to do and how to do it,” said Madelyn Gould. 

Disturbing Suicide Cluster Prompts CDC to Start Investigation in Palo Alto
ABC News | Nightline
February 16, 2016

ABC News and Nightline report on suicide clusters in Palo Alto, the possible causes, and the community's response. "They have engaged the entire community to embrace their responsibility," Gould told ABC News. "That is the first thing that is very, very effective."

Suicide Claims 14th Marine from a Unit Battered by Loss
The New York Times
December 29, 2015

Mental health and suicide-prevention initiatives for the military are making progress, but Dr. Madelyn Gould still sees shortcomings. She discusses when and how suicide clusters can form, and what mental health providers and institutions might do to begin to address the problem.   

National Suicide Expert Visits Palo Alto: Columbia University Researcher Madelyn Gould Discusses Clusters, Role of the Media
Palo Alto Online
September 18, 2015

Two teenage suicide clusters in Palo Alto, California, have prompted ongoing questions about the potential role of the community in cases of suicide contagion. Are there suicide-cluster-prone towns? Does the media play a role in triggering a cluster? What are the implications of community messaging during a contagion? Madelyn Gould, a leading expert in youth suicide, addressed these and other issues when speaking about suicide contagion at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Gould cited specific factors that can positively or negatively affect suicide contagion in a community. “All our messaging needs to take into account the concerns that we have,” she noted. “It’s not just the responsibility of the media. It is really everybody’s responsibility.”

Youth Suicide Contagion: Implications for Colleges and Universities
May 28, 2015

Presenter Madelyn S. Gould, PhD, MPH, and moderator Alison Lake, MA, present specific postvention strategies that colleges and universities can use to limit the risk of further suicides through contagion.

AAS: Preventing suicide clusters on college campuses
Family Practice News
April 23, 2015

“Given the prevalence of suicide on college campuses, and the associated risk of suicide contagion and clustering, it’s imperative that colleges develop effective and comprehensive postvention programs,” Madelyn S. Gould, PhD, said at the annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology.

The Science Behind Suicide Contagion
The New York Times
August 13, 2014

Publicity surrounding a suicide has been definitively linked to a subsequent increase in suicide, especially among young people. And there is a particularly strong effect after celebrity suicides. Madelyn Gould, a professor at Columbia University and an expert on suicide contagion, is apprehensive this week, following the high-profile death of comedian/actor Robin Williams. “Suicide contagion is real,” she explained, “which is why I’m concerned …” Suicide prevention advocates have developed a series of guidelines for news media coverage of suicide deaths, which have been shown to help avoid contagion. These include the avoidance of repetitive or prominent coverage. However, as Professor Gould points out, the guidelines are simply unrealistic when covering celebrities like Mr. Williams.

Newspaper Coverage Linked with Youth Suicide Clusters
USA Today
May 1, 2014

A study looking back at the 1980s and 1990s, before the rise of social media, suggests that detailed, high-profile newspaper stories were associated with creating suicide clusters among young people. Madelyn Gould, lead author of the study which appeared in Lancet Psychiatry, says this is the first time a study has compared a possible risk factor for suicide contagion–in this case, newspaper coverage—in communities where suicide clusters did occur versus communities where suicide clusters did not occur after an initial youth suicide. An editorial accompanying the study discusses the next obvious step, which is to explore the impact of social media on suicide contagion.

Media Should Tread Carefully in Covering Suicide
NPR | Morning Edition
August 13, 2014

According to Dr. Madelyn Gould, a suicide researcher at Columbia University, there are an average of five suicide clusters annually in the United States. Defined as three or more suicides in a specific place over a short period of time, these clusters occur almost exclusively in teenagers. Gould explains that though developmental factors in teens make them particularly susceptible to suicide contagion, the most significant predictor of youth suicide risk is the presence of an underlying mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. Gould also discusses the critical role played by the media in triggering or helping to mitigate the risk of suicide contagion in a community.

The Bridge of Death
ABC News
October 20, 2006

In response to a controversial documentary, The Bridge, that documented 23 suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004, Dr. Madelyn Gould and others voiced concern about the effect that the film might have in romanticizing suicide. "There are times that suicide is presented as mysterious, as appealing and as inevitable, and those are messages that we absolutely do not want anyone to share," said Dr. Gould. … "Because suicide is not inevitable, it's preventable. It's so not appealing. It's the worst thing that someone can do obviously to themselves and their loved ones."