Can Both Good and Bad Health Be Socially Contagious?

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Both good and bad health are going to be social contagious unfortunately and one of the things that we see for example suicide can spread from one person to another. In fact the CDC has written special regulations for the media in order to try to keep suicide from spreading, they try to avoid talking about it as a suicide because it glamorizes it and people who are sort of thinking by doing this to themselves especially people who might have known the individual for themselves are more likely to kill themselves.

You see evidence in some cases a dozen people or more actually committing suicide in these suicide cascades. Cutting behavior so there are teenagers who cut themselves and unfortunately there are online sites where teenagers can talk about this and there is some evidence that also can spread from one person to another.

And so all the good things that we might do, getting to know our weight, exercising, taking our medications, getting vaccinated, all those good things, we're actively studying. How do we intervene in these networks? How do we find just exactly the right people to try to change their behavior on the network, so that they create these cascades changing hundreds, thousands maybe millions of people.

But we're also aware of the fact that the same thing can work in reverse and so while we're also trying to change crucial people's behavior we might also be trying to do prevention on crucial people. To try to keep them from changing for the worse and to keep that cascade from happening in the first place.