Suicide and Social Media: A scoping study examining current activity and stakeholder opinion with regard to suicide and social media

Presentation First Author: 
Jo Robinson

Background : The media has an important role in suicide prevention. The last decade has seen the Internet become an increasingly powerful form of media. The advent of Web 2.0 has extended its by enabling users to not only receive information, but to create and exchange their own content, leading to the rise of social media sites. These are commonly used to communicate about suicide-related thoughts and/or behavior, raising questions regarding the ways in which we talk about suicide on-line and how this may affect others, and regarding the potential for social media as a preventative tool. Objectives: The aims of this project are twofold: 1) To conduct a literature review and scoping study to establish the extent of work /activity currently underway that relates to suicide and social media 2) To conduct a stakeholder consultation within the WHO Western Pacific region, to determine current gaps in knowledge, community perceptions of the relationship between suicide and social media, and future priorities for work in this field. Methods: The project comprises two phases. Phase 1 is a scoping exercise to map all activity underway that relates to suicide and social media. This will involve a review of published literature and an Internet search to identify web-based providers of health information that comprise a social networking function or employ social media techniques. Phase 2 comprises a series of consultation exercises with stakeholders across the Western Pacific region, including an on-line survey, in-depth interviews and a small number of case studies. Results: The study is still underway, but results will be presented summarising the evidence pertaining to the relationship between suicide and social media and any evidence identified supporting the use of social media as a tool for preventing suicide. We will also describe the ways in which social media are currently being used for suicide prevention. The findings from the stakeholder consultation will cover stakeholder perceptions of the relationship between suicide and social media; the potential opportunities for future suicide prevention activities employing social media techniques; the risks and advantages of this form of media for the suicide prevention sector and future directions and / or priorities. Conclusions: Conclusions will be drawn regarding the safety of, and potential for, social media as a suicide prevention tool and will highlight possible future directions for this field of work.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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