In a cluster, one death will beget another, with teenagers already teetering on the edge with depression or other mental illness seeing death as an escape from their internal demons and external pressures, Madelyn Gould, a professor of psychiatry and mental health at Columbia University, said.
In 90 percent of all suicides, the victim had a diagnosable mental illness, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
, including 60 percent who suffered from depression.
The death of a peer, Gould
said, "presents suicide as an option" to those already suffering.
"It makes it more real," Gould
The public attention may have been a significant contributing factor, according to Gould and Frank J. Zenere, the psychologist for the Miami-Dade Public Schools.
Instead of dwelling on a suicide, or memorializing the victim with plaques, T-shirts or Sharpie tattoos or dedicating the football team's next win in his or her name, experts have encouraged schools to focus on suicide prevention, identifying at-risk students and emphasizing life, Zenere and Gould
It's a very irrational thing to do, but when people are in an extreme psychological pain, reason is out the window," Gould