In 1973, there was a hostage situation in a bank in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Bank burglars came into the bank, and held 4 people as hostages for 6 days. Most people would think the hostages would tremble with fear. However, something odd occurred. After all the burglars were arrested, there was a trial to judge them. None of the hostages gave unfavorable testimony about the bank burglars. One hostage even felt affection for one of them, so she dissolved her marriage contract.
Some scholars divided this syndrome into 3 steps. First, hostages start to feel appreciation and warm-heartedness to hostage takers so they aren’t killed. Then, they feel antipathy to police that try to rescue them with the great risk of life. Lastly, with the formation of sympathy, they believe they are ‘us’ with hostage takers.
In 2014, there was a terrible child abuse case in Chilk-goc, Korea. A stepmother tortured two sisters with water almost every day. Besidesthis , she also let them go hungry, and only gave red pepper to them. She also strangled them with a jump rope, pushed them down the stairs, gave massive amount of water and then, prohibited them from going to the bathroom. She did numerous evil deeds to the sisters. After arresting the stepmother, he sisters’ psychology was tested. Surprisingly, both sisters answered that the person who they love most is their step mother. They also said she is a kind, tender, and pretty mother. This phenomenon shows how awful this syndrome is.
Have you ever read a book The Sorrows of Young Werther written by Goethe? The Werther effect is derived from this book, especially from the main character’s name, Werther. In this book, Werther loves Lotte a lot, but he sooner notices that she has a fiance. Then he felt great discouragement and loneliness. Finally, he shot himself.
After this book was published, it created a boom. At first, many men and women copied the clothes and style of the main characters. However, not only did they copy the style, but they also started to do copycat suicides. At that time, people who shot themselves, or people who drowned themselves had this book near them. Like this, about 2,000 people attempted suicide. Because of this problem, some countries prohibited this book.
200 years later, David Philips, a sociologist of America, created the term ‘Werther effect’. Because after this phenomena, he also figured out that copycat suicides are likely to follow the suicide of celebrities.
In October 2nd 2008, there was an accident in which Korea’s famous female actress ‘Choi Jin-sil’ committed suicide with a compress in her bathroom. Her suicide sent shockwaves through the whole country. In that month, suicide rates increased 65.6% compared to the last month. Compared to the last year, it also increased 85.4%. November and December’s suicide rate was really high compared to the previous year. Also, the suicidal method was also similar with her. Many suicides used a compress, and chose the bathroom to carry it out.
These days, this phenomenon still remain. It could be difficult to avoid this, but we can try to prevent suicides with fast and appropriate follow-up actions.
Oh Yu-ju -
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