Concerns have arisen over possible copycat suicides by young fans following the death of South Korean boy band lead singer Kim Jong-hyun.
After the sudden death of the K-pop star on Monday, members of his fanclub in Thailand grieved for their beloved idol and there was an unconfirmed report of a suicide.
Although this report could not be substantiated, doctors have warned that this possibility should not be dismissed. They have urged friends and family of fans to look out for any signs of suicidal thought.
Administrator of the Facebook fanpage “Drama Addict”, Dr Withawat Siriprachai stated on the page that he would like the public to understand that copycat suicide is a real problem. He said it was scientifically proven that the overall suicide rate rises significantly for a period of time after a famous person takes his or her own life.
“Clear evidence of suicide contagion can be noticed after the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide. Many fans were reportedly depressed over his death and some even took their lives,” Withawat said.
“Those who are affected by depression from the death of their idol suffer similar mental problems as patients of major depressive disorder. They feel that they are worthless, so lecturing them is not the solution. They need to consult with a psychiatrist.”
Mental Health Department director-general Dr Boonruang Triruangworawat emphasised that despite copycat suicide being uncommon in Thailand, the friends and family of those who become depressed after the death of a famous star should keep a close look out for the warning signs of suicidal thought.
Boonruang said that this behaviour included frequent crying, seclusion from others, speaking less, absent-mindedness and complaining about the worthlessness of their life.
“The family should take these warning signs seriously, otherwise they may lose the chance to save their loved ones,” he said.
“I would like to stress that suicide can be prevented and depression can be cured. It is also not the case that only mentally sick people have to seek assistance from a psychiatrist. Anyone can consult a psychiatrist.”