Sports Spectatorship and Suicidal Behavior

By Brock, Stephen E. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, December 2010 | Go to article overview

Sports Spectatorship and Suicidal Behavior


Brock, Stephen E., National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


Summarized by Joy Whitehead, predoctoral intern, Dallas Independent School District and Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX.

The primary purpose of the article 'Can Sports Events Affect Suicidal Behavior?" was to review literature on the relationship between sports spectatorship and suicidal behavior. The authors were interested in examining if sports spectatorship either increased the risk of suicidal behavior or served as a protective factor against suicidal behavior. A review of literature published in English in peer-reviewedj ournals on the impact of sports events on suicidal behavior identified nine studies published between 1986 and 2006. Six studies were done in the UnitedStates, two in the United Kingdom, and one in Canada. Three studies focused on fatal or completed suicide, two on nonfatal or attempted suicide behavior, and four on suicide and homicide.

Results of the studies examining fatal suicide were mixed. One study conducted in the United States compared observed and expected frequencies of suicides from 1972-1978 from 3 days before, 3 days after, and on the day of Super Bowl Sunday and the last day of the World Series. The study did not find a statistically significant difference between the observed and expected numbers of suicide on the ceremonial sports days. A follow-up study examining both suicide and homicide rates on Superbowl Sunday and the day of the last game of the World Series found similar results: no significant changes in suicide or homicide rates. A Canadian study examining suicide during the Stanley Cup found that although the overall suicide rates were unaffected by the sporting event, young (15-34 years old), unmarried males had an increased risk of suicide during the playoffs.

Another author conducted three studies examining geographical relocation of teams, team strikes, and team performance on suicide and homicide rates. The first study found a significant increase in suicide rates after relocation of a sports team, but not a significant increase in homicide rates. The second study found a positive relationship between team strikes andhomicide, but no correlation between team strikes and suicide. …

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