The death of Cho Sung-min, former baseball player and ex-husband of late actress Choi Jin-sil, may be linked to a "domino effect" triggered by a suicide in the family, experts say. Cho apparently killed himself in his girlfriend's apartment on Sunday morning.
Cho's ex-wife, actress Choi Jin-sil, committed suicide in October 2008. Then in March 2010 his brother-in-law, the singer and actor Choi Jin-young also took his own life.
Cho apparently hanged himself in the bathroom, as did his ex-wife, and both sent text messages to their friends hinting that they were going to end their lives.
In 2006, a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide of one person has a serious psychological impact on people around them, including family, friends and colleagues.
"Family members usually play a role suppressing suicidal urges," said Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University. "On the other hand, when one family member commits suicide, this suppressive function loses its effectiveness and other family members are more likely to take their own lives when something bad happens."
Won Seung-hee at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, said, "Suicide is highly infectious, and when one family member takes his or her own life, others may feel the urge to do the same, so special steps need to be taken to prevent this."