Epidemic of Suicides

Entitled as above, the following comes from Emporia, Kansas, through The Topeka Daily Capital:

"Mayor Morse of Emporia formally asked the editors of Emporia papers to-day to refrain from publishing details of suicides. He said that the publication of details of suicides had caused the alarming epidemic of suicides in this community in the last two years. Beginning with that of Charles Cross, president of the wrecked First National Bank of Emporia, suicides have averaged almost one a month. During the past six months the number has increased, and last night the papers printed the details of three attempts in two days, making ten in the last two months

" 'I have consulted the Board of Health,' said Mayor Morse to-day, 'and I believe that if the Emporia papers do not comply with my request I have a right to stop summarily the publication of these suicide details under the law providing for the suppression of epidemics. There is clearly an epidemic in town; it is mental, but none the less deadly. Its contagion may be clearly shown to come from the suggestion—what is known in medicine as the psychic suggestion—found in the publication of the details of suicides. If the paper on which these local papers are printed had been kept in a place infected with smallpox I could demand that the papers quit using that paper or stop publication. If they spread another contagion, the contagion suggestion of suicide, I believe the liberty of the press is not to be considered before the public welfare, and that the courts would sustain me in using force to prevent the publication of papers containing matter clearly deleterious to the public health. However, no such steps need be taken. Mr. White of the Gazette, Mr. Strong of the Republican, and Mr. Yearout of the Times are in sympathy with me in this movement, and will suppress details of suicides until the epidemic subsides.' "

A Letter from Germany
June 27, 1901

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