Why so many British visitors came to this website in one day

spike in web traffic after a celebrity death by suicide

USA 1-800-273-8255
USA Crisis Text 741-741
USA Crisis line for LGBTQ Youth 1-866-488-7386
Canada 1-833-456-4566
United Kingdom 116 123
Australia 13 11 14
International suicide hotlines

Often when I get up in the morning I check my website statistics. I know, that’s super geeky. But it’s part of my own study. By 8 am, 450 people had visited one page on this site.

For a blog that reaches a thousand a day, that’s a lot of people going to one page from Google that early in the morning. At that time in the morning, it’s typical to see 225 or so. This was almost double. I knew something was up so I checked the visitors.

Most of them were from the UK. I have British visitors but they are in the minority. I thought, “What is up?”

I have seen this spike before

When Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died by suicide, traffic to that particular page rose by seven times on the days following those deaths. In those cases, news outlets announced the suicide method right away. I wrote the page for which they searched for the sole purpose of showing up at the top of Google results when someone was looking to kill themselves in this way. (Trigger warning: the page is here.)

So I googled what UK star might have died by suicide recently

And I saw that Caroline Flack, one of Britain’s most famous television faces had. She had spent years working on a number of reality television shows. But she rose to new levels of fame as the host of “Love Island,” a hit reality dating show.

But that suicide was Saturday and today was Wednesday. Why the time lag? Maybe I had the wrong star?

And then I saw it.

Over the weekend, there was no coroner’s report so the method had not been revealed.

But just an hour before the statistics on this site were blowing up, the coroner’s report was published and revealed the method of Flack’s suicide. So that sent a lot of vulnerable individuals to Google to look up this way to die. And because I rank #4 in the world, they landed here. And of course, I don’t have instructions but resources.

Reporters are encouraged to refrain from putting the method of suicide in a headline. But not all news outlets follow those guidelines.

What studies have found is that when the method is mentioned in a headline or described in-depth, it can trigger vulnerable individuals to want to suicide. Especially if it’s sensationalized.

People struggling think, “If someone like her can’t make it, I don’t think I can either.” Then those individuals who were already at risk, look up that method of death creating copycat suicides and suicide attempts. Suicides of celebrities, in particular, inspire this behavior.

This doesn’t mean that sensible and sensitive conversation on the subject of suicide triggers vulnerable people. We know it actually inspires them to seek help.

That’s why every article on a reported suicide should be surrounded by resources. Especially celebrity suicides. Studies show that when reporters follow such reporting guidelines and recommendations, calls to crisis lines asking for help increase which indicates people are reaching out for help.

That’s what we want them to do. I have to admit it’s overwhelming and painful to see that so many struggling.

Reporting guidelines on suicide

This indicates that someone struggling went from the page on this site they searched from Google and accessed UK crisis resources.

USA 1-800-273-8255
USA Crisis Text 741-741
USA Crisis line for LGBTQ Youth 1-866-488-7386
Canada 1-833-456-4566
United Kingdom 116 123
Australia 13 11 14
International suicide hotlines

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

5 thoughts on “Why so many British visitors came to this website in one day”

  1. I am in England and when they said in the news Caroline Flack died by ligature 😭 I have to be honest (as I’m low at the moment) I googled it and thought it can’t be that bad. Chester and Chris chose this as their suicides. I think this time of year sucks. Love to you Anne and everyone here 🙏

    1. I thought of you when I was writing that. I remember you saying that. In fact, you have several quotes in your article on this site that I have used and afterwards, people come up to me and tell me how much it means to them that I mentioned it. And then I tell them how to find your article about managing grief with depression. You have helped so many you didn’t even know about.

      But seeing all those logins yesterday and still today it sucks the air of out my body. It like little needle jabs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.