There are many kinds of tragedies that affect the audience in deeply personal ways. Each is sensitive in different ways. It’s particularly challenging to talk about events involving kids. But when a celebrity ends their life by suicide, it’s even more complicated.

A celebrity suicide tragedy touches the lives of listeners, particularly fans, in a deeply personal way. The public is interested, intrigued and will be seeking more information. And media will oblige by talking about it constantly for a few days. But that media coverage creates a side effect. It’s called “suicide contagion.”

After all, if celebrities like Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain can’t find happiness, many listeners lose hope. That’s particularly true if they already battle depression.

It may be enough to push them over the edge.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the suicide rate has spiked in recent years, particularly among teenage girls. They may not be in your station’s target audience (or they might), but it’s likely that teenage girls affect most listeners in the audience. They may be a daughter, granddaughter, niece or sibling. So it’s sensitive.

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Talking About Suicide

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