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Letter: Talking about suicide won't solve the problem

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
Deseret News

The Jan. 21 editorial that references studies suggesting that openly discussing suicide may help prevent it is irresponsible, as are the activities in recent years in the media, schools, churches and government that make the same assumption. We know that a suicide will often spawn a "cluster" of copycat suicides. We also know more generally from research on human behavior by Robert Cialdini that messages that portray unwanted behaviors as "regrettably frequent" can actually increase those unwanted behaviors by as much as 300 percent, according to Cialdini's research. Are we actually increasing the frequency of suicide by talking about it so much? I think it's very likely. When people's lives are at stake, we have to know before we act. "May help prevent it" just isn't good enough.

Tom Wagner

Fruit Heights