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Real-life soap.

Real-life soap

Some British television viewers evidently take their soap operas too close to heart. After Angie, a character on a BBC soap called "Eastenders,' deliberately took an overdose of pills (apparently to gain her husband's attention), self-poisoning cases at University Hospital in Nottingham went up from an average of 23 a week to 43, three scientists report in the April 12 LANCET. At Hackney Hospital in London, the number of people with overdoses a week after Angie's exploit was 22, more than triple the 7-a-week average for the preceding 10 weeks, Simon J. Ellis and Susan Walsh report in the March 22 LANCET.

Because of the ensuing rush on hospital beds, Hackney Hospital, located in the east part of London where the soap opera supposedly takes place, had to cancel routine admissions. (A correspondent from Northampton General Hospital, north of London, reported that no increase was seen there.) Ellis and Walsh suggest wryly that Angie's next overdose be timed for a period when hospital beds are not so scarce.

As for Angie, she was released from the hospital the same day she was admitted, and was apparently feeling well. Her wayward husband, the Nottingham researchers note, "appeared to be more in tow.'
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Title Annotation:soap opera suicide attempt triggers imitations
Publication:Science News
Date:May 17, 1986
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