Gloomy Sunday: Did the "Hungarian Suicide Song" really create a suicide epidemic?

Steven Stack, Karolina Krysinska, David Lester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The effect of art on suicide risk has been a neglected topic in suicidology. The present article focuses on what is probably the best known song concerning suicide, Gloomy Sunday, the "Hungarian suicide song." An analysis of historical sources suggests that the song was believed to trigger suicides. It was, for example, banned by the BBC in England until 2002. The alleged increase in suicides in the 1930s associated with the playing of the song may be attributed to audience mood, especially the presence of a large number of depressed persons as a result of the Great Depression. The influence of music on suicide may be contingent on societal, social, and individual conditions, such as economic recessions, membership in musical subcultures, and psychiatric disturbance. Further research is needed on art forms, such as feature films, paintings, novels, and music that portray suicides in order to identify the conditions under which the triggering of suicides occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

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