conference on the influence of stars, the media and the suicide “contagion”.
The conference organized by the “Clinical psychopathology, medical psychology and psychotherapy” (PCPMP) of the Magisterium of the University of Burgundy this Thursday, January 26, at 18:00, brings together two experts, including the psychiatrist of Chartreuse, Clément Guillet. The latter is the author of “The Werther Effect: Stars, Media, and the Suicide Contagion.”
Clément Guillet is a psychiatrist at the Center Hospitalier Spécialisé La Chartreuse in Dijon. was interested in the effect “star system” and media over fans.
It was in 2009, after the death of Michael Jackson, that Dr. Guillet was interested in the mourning worn by some of his fans: “I did a sociology thesis before that, and then a book. When I finished my medical studies, I used this material again for my thesis, this time on the influence of Werther: this fan phenomenon of suicidal ideation and imitation and suicide that can involve the Stars when they commit suicide. cases of infection.”
It was at that time that the psychiatrist consulted the patient, a fan of the American group “Linkin Park” and its singer Chester Bennington, and witnessed this event. “This patient admitted to me that he tried to commit suicide after the singer’s suicide in 2017. I had an embodiment of this Werther effect phenomenon in one patient.”
Clément Guillet then took the initiative to write a book on the subject, since nothing existed on the question.
Doctor Guillet breaks down the mechanism that can affect fans starting with the “star system”: “It works on identification. When we identify with someone we feel close to and admire, it’s a double identification, which we call both vertical and horizontal. , we will imitate him. This is a phenomenon. fans.”
According to Clément Guillet, identification can affect anyone: “There are times in life when you’re more exposed to these identities, you’re looking for an identity outside of your family, usually in adolescence. And there are people who stay a fan their whole life because it’s going to stamp their identity. It becomes a turning point.”
More specifically The Werthe effectr, i.e. people who will be affected by a star’s suicide and who will have suicidal thoughts and act:“Both of these are young people, people who could be fanatics, especially people who have a psychiatric history and underlying fragility. There are several factors that compel us to identify.”
To perform “affects the most exposed people”, according to Clement Guillet. there is “Frailty grounds that affect the most vulnerable people with other psychiatric pathologies, addictions… Then the star’s suicide will be the trigger.”
Not everyone takes action, but Dr. Guillet nevertheless notes the most important “The Werther Effect” identified: the disappearance of the American actor Robin Williams in 2014, where 1800 suicides will be linked to his gesture. “But not all Robin Williams fans committed suicide!” Dr. Guillet punctuates.
But similar events were observed with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 or Amy Winehouse in 2011.
Stars can also prevent suicide
Dr. Guillet notes that if the stars can be proven to have an effect on suicidal ideation, it could also be useful for more positive things: “If stars ever talk to a full audience about suicidal thoughts and it’s aired, a lot of people will identify with them, and we’ve seen that with Stromae, who call suicide hotlines and say, ‘I’d like to get out of it, too.'”
Suicide is a public health problem, with 9,000 deaths and 200,000 attempted suicides in France each year. The psychiatrist sees something positive: “We know that prevention can break the taboo, but also through speaking out by stars who create potentially positive imitations. There is also media work to explain this.problem and awareness that needs to be done.”
Information channels are numerous, but the media “has a role to play”According to Dr. Guillet. “It is not necessary to show the places where suicide occurs, to dwell on the methods. On the other hand, it is always interesting to provide resources and information for the prevention of suicide.”
The media should behave more responsibly around suicide issues: “Stars and the media transmit these kinds of psychiatric speeches, where stars have their own pathology, bipolarity, etc. to say, ‘we suffer from this, but look, there are possibilities.’
Breaking these taboos and guiding people responsibly is a way of dealing with this topic that is not a topic like any other and that resonates.
The media may have a role, but Dr. Guillet points to this “Social networks have made an effort: Facebook, for example, has set up a system to warn if someone publishes suicidal thoughts”
Social networks should play the card of moderation and advice, their proximity to the public can highlight imitation events: “In the ultra-mediated society in which we find ourselves, social networks, YouTubers have made it even more personalized: we address the person directly, the identification is even stronger, we have more connection with the star. Previously, you had to buy Podium to hear from Claude Francois. Today he would be on Instagram 10 times a day! It further enhances the star effect, therefore enhancing imitation events.
There is a national figure for suicide prevention, which is 31 14 “Suicide Prevention Suffering”, is there to help, inform and act on suicide prevention. maintenance specialist, specially trained in suicide prevention is at your service.