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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;49(8):697-705. doi: 10.1177/0004867415569797. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Suicide-related Internet use: A review.

Author information

1
Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia kmok@student.unimelb.edu.au.
2
Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To systematically review research on how people use the Internet for suicide-related reasons and its influence on users. This review summarises the main findings and conclusions of existing work, the nature of studies that have been conducted, their strengths and limitations, and directions for future research.

METHOD:

An online search was conducted through PsycINFO, PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE and CINAHL databases for papers published between 1991 and 2014. Papers were included if they examined how the Internet was used for suicide-related reasons, the influence of suicide-related Internet use, and if they presented primary data, including case studies of Internet-related suicide attempts and completions.

RESULTS:

Findings of significant relationships between suicide-related search trends and rates of suicide suggest that search trends may be useful in monitoring suicide risk in a population. Studies that examine online communications between people who are suicidal can further our understanding of individuals' suicidal experiences. While engaging in suicide-related Internet use was associated with higher levels of suicidal ideation, evidence of its influence on suicidal ideation over time was mixed. There is a lack of studies directly recruiting suicidal Internet users. Only case studies examined the influence of suicide-related Internet use on suicidal behaviours, while no studies assessed the influence of pro-suicide or suicide prevention websites. Online professional services can be useful to suicide prevention and intervention efforts, but require more work in order to demonstrate their efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Research has shown that individuals use the Internet to search for suicide-related information and to discuss suicide-related problems with one another. However, the causal link between suicide-related Internet use and suicidal thoughts and behaviours is still unclear. More research is needed, particularly involving direct contact with Internet users, in order to understand the impact of both informal and professionally moderated suicide-related Internet use.

KEYWORDS:

Internet; online; suicide; suicide-related

PMID:
25698810
DOI:
10.1177/0004867415569797
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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