A suicide cluster, mental health professionals say, is when three or more suicides occur in a community over a short period of time. On average, there are five such clusters each year in the United States, according to psychiatric epidemiologist Madelyn Gould of Columbia University. [Dr.] Gould, who was featured in a recent report on National Public Radio, has been studying 50 suicide clusters from the past decade. A string of teen suicides in the Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Rockland area in 2001 may be among the clusters Ms. Gould is studying in Maine.
The most distinctive feature of suicide clusters is that the victims are teens, [Dr.] Gould told NPR. Teens are vulnerable for a number of reasons. They are