Intended for healthcare professionals


Suicides rise after Diana's death

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 18 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1243

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  1. Raj Persaud
  1. London

    A rise in the suicide rate in England and Wales followed the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, three years ago, a new study shows. The University of Oxford Centre for Suicide Research found that the overall suicide rate in England and Wales rose by 17% in the four weeks after her funeral, compared with the average reported for that period in the four previous years (British Journal of Psychiatry 2000;177:469-72).

    The number of people taking their lives in this period increased by 40, but the impact was greatest on women, particularly women closest in age to Diana herself, who died at 37. The rate of suicide in women increased some 34% in the month after Diana's death, and in women aged 25-44 the rate increased by over 45% The researchers suggest an “identification” factor partly explains the findings—the kind of people who most identified with the princess were most affected by her death.

    It might be that women close to her in age and who identified with her relationship and psychological difficulties became more pessimistic about their own ability to conquer similar problems. Particularly intriguing was the finding from the national confidential inquiry into suicide and homicide by people with mental illness that there was no change during this period in the proportion of suicides known to mental health professionals.

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    Candles are lit at the makeshift monument for Diana, Princess of Wales, in Paris on the eve of the first anniversary of her death


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