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Werther syndrome

a cluster suicide induced by the suicide of a well-known or popular role model whose death is given extensive coverage by the media. The phenomenon is named for the first identified instance of media-triggered suicide, which occurred in 1774 following the publication of the novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). The book triggered a fad, in that many young men of the time imitated the eccentric style of dress of the book’s hero, Werther, by dressing in blue and yellow. Some young men also killed themselves in the same way Werther did in the novel, causing the book to be banned in some communities.

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Psychology term of the day

June 18th 2024