Could, perchance, the awareness that I was hoping for in 1987 with Suicide Clusters and in 2004 with The Copycat Effect is finally sinking into the editorial rooms of the global media?
Russia has been hit with a wave of copycat teenage suicides so pronounced that President Dmitri A. Medvedev felt compelled on Thursday to warn news media outlets against making too much of the deaths, for fear of attracting more imitators.
“It is indeed very alarming and serious, but it does not mean that it is a snowball that will become bigger and bigger every year,” Mr. Medvedev said. “This must be treated extremely gently.”
The spike in teenage suicides began in February, when two 14-year-old girls jumped hand in hand from the 16th-floor roof of an apartment building in suburban Moscow. Afterward, a series of apartment jumps attracted national attention.
Over 24 hours starting on April 9, there were at least six deaths. A girl, 16, jumped from an unfinished hospital in Siberia, while five others hanged themselves: a boy, 15, who died in the city of Perm two days after his mother found him hanging; another 15-year-old, who killed himself on his birthday, in Nizhny Novgorod, a city on the Volga River; teenagers in the northern city of Lomonosov and in Samara; and a 16-year-old murder suspect who used his prison bedsheet to kill himself in Krasnoyarsk.
There have been at least 10 more cases in the past week, including a boy, 11, found hanging under the roof of his house in Krasnodar.