Psychologists say a constant flow of social media posts, television stories and newspaper articles on suicide can act as trigger for vulnerable patients with mental health issues. “It can be the tipping point, which gives them ‘permission’ to act on what they had so far just been thinking about. We have seen similar surges in India following the deaths of actors Pratyusha Banerjee (in April 2016) and Jiah Khan (in June 2013),” says Hvovi Bhagwagar, Mumbai-based clinical psychologist who specialises in trauma therapy.

There is, in fact, an unwritten code among healthcare professionals in India to not contribute to sensationalised articles or content on suicide deaths of celebrities. In the past one week, Bhagwagar has heard clients mention the Spade and Bourdain deaths at every session she has had at her clinic. She recalls that depression/suicide ideation among her clients was much higher during the media coverage of Hollywood actor Robin Williams’ death in August 2014.

Featured in the Economic Times on June 17th, 2018