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When Celebrities Die

It is always agonizing to see our favourite stars die. Worse still when the celebrity dies an unnatural death. The death of Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa and MGR- to mention a few are all etched in the memory of the nation and its millions. The sorrow multiplies if the death is violent and gory- the crash that claimed Lady Diana's life and the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi are always remembered as horrendous events in world history. But more disturbing is the fact that these celebrity deaths spark off a series of suicides and attempts to commit suicides.

Now, medical research from Great Britain reveals a surprising side effect of our "celebrity connection." In the week after Princess Di's death, the number of people in England and Wales who intentionally harmed themselves increased by almost 45%. And during the month after her funeral, suicides rose by nearly 20%. The authors believe Diana's death added to existing feelings of sadness and distress in these people. For them, this public tragedy was a final, private burden that pushed some of them over the edge.

Now, medical research from Great Britain reveals a surprising side effect of our "celebrity connection."

The researchers say women are more prone to this than men and that this contagion factor in suicides is now clearly established. But there is help at hand. Dr. Jeremy Kisch, senior director for clinical education at the National Mental Health Association, based in Alexandria, Va., says "Suicide is very much an impulse of the moment, so anything you can do to create some postponement, some thinking process, will be helpful," What will work may vary from person to person, but anything that puts some pause between initial impulse and the action is a good idea. If you feel you are in real danger of harming yourself, go to a hospital emergency room."

That should be good news for those emotionally fragile people. But are th ey listening?

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