Sunday, November 3, 2013

Social Media to Curb Suicide Rates

Social Media to Curb Suicide Rates
Curb Suicide Rates

Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2020 approximately 1.53 million people will die from suicide. Suicide is not a mere individual phenomenon, but it is influenced by social and environmental factors. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24 and every year hundreds of thousands of young people engage in self-harm incidents. Many young people display red-flag behaviors in the digital world before these incidents occur. The faceless nature of online communication often emboldens children to reveal details about their state of mind: leaving tell-tale indicators or “bread crumbs” of their well-being. If parents, educators, and mentors are aware of the risk factors and warning signs, connected technology can help them take an active role in promoting healthy behavior and intervening in dangerous situations.

Since the first documented Internet suicide pact in Japan 12 years ago, researchers have been trying to figure out what role the Web plays in suicidal behavior. On one hand, you have people genuinely concerned and taking action when someone makes an alarming or depressed comment on one of the social networks. On the other hand, you have cyber bullying that is creating a higher level of suicides in teenagers than before the Web. There are pro-suicide chat rooms and private Facebook groups and not-so-private Twitter lists. But there also are huge opportunities to use social media to identify people who are at risk. Heart-breaking accounts of cyber bullying and suicide seem all too common, but a new study offers hope that social media can become an early warning system to help prevent such tragedies. University researchers claim that social media can become an early warning system to help prevent tragedies like suicide. In this new study, researchers at Brigham Young University examined several tweets from 50 different states over a three month period. After navigating through millions of tweets their algorithms picked tweets that had direct discussion of suicide and also those tweets that included keywords and phrases linked with known risk factors such as bullying and depression.

"With social media, kids sometimes say things that they aren't saying out loud to an adult or friend in person," Christopher Giraud-Carrier, a BYU computer scientist and one of the study's seven authors, said in a press statement.

After sifting through millions of tweets they found 37,717 genuinely disturbing tweets from 28,088 unique users for whom some location information was available. They found that the ratio of suicidal tweets for each state strongly correlated with the actual suicide rate. Prior to this, researchers found that nearly 15 percent of the tweets contained at least state level location, this can help in involving state health care departments. Next, the researchers plan to develop an app for school students that will incorporate as well as analyze data that students post. The app's algorithm will notify the counselors the moment a student posts something disturbing that is a cry for help.

Social Media to Curb Suicide Rates
Curb Suicide Rates
 Also in South Korea, Social media data such as weblog contents are used to gauge the public mood. Despite the diversity of content at an individual level, the aggregate of millions of social media data is used to get a pragmatic representation of public mood. Also it is used to measure national happiness by tracking the usage of key words among users of social media services. Moreover, it has been shown that online social media data can be used to predict changes in the stock market, influenza infection rates, and box office receipts. Therefore, social media data could be a promising source for investigating the association between suicide and public mood and for the refinement of suicide prediction models.

The digital world provides a natural medium for acting out and/or expressing emotions, and warning signs often reveal themselves online. For example, plans for reckless and dangerous behavior could be posted on Twitter and Facebook, and feelings of hopelessness might be confessed on a blog. In January 2011, a woman in England posted a suicide note on her Facebook wall. She had 1,048 friends, but while her friends discussed the legitimacy of the post—no one came to her aid. She was found dead the next morning. If any of her friends had reported the message to police, it might have saved her life. Parents, educators, and mentors who are connected both offline and online with young people should carefully watch for warning signs. When witnessed, these warning signs should be taken very seriously to help young people get the support they need.

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  2. Suicide is the stupidest thing to do by people. Do not ever do that.
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