Detecting changes in suicide content manifested in social media following celebrity suicides

Mrinal Kumar, Mark Dredze, Glen Coppersmith, Munmun De Choudhury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The Werther effect describes the increased rate of completed or attempted suicides following the depiction of an individual's suicide in the media, typically a celebrity. We present findings on the prevalence of this effect in an online platform: r/SuicideWatch on Reddit. We examine both the posting activity and post content after the death of ten high-profile suicides. Posting activity increases following reports of celebrity suicides, and post content exhibits considerable changes that indicate increased suicidal ideation. Specifically, we observe that post-celebrity suicide content is more likely to be inward focused, manifest decreased social concerns, and laden with greater anxiety, anger, and negative emotion. Topic model analysis further reveals content in this period to switch to a more derogatory tone that bears evidence of self-harm and suicidal tendencies. We discuss the implications of our findings in enabling better community support to psychologically vulnerable populations, and the potential of building suicide prevention interventions following high-profile suicides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHT 2015 - Proceedings of the 26th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages85-94
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450333955
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 24 2015
Event26th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, HT 2015 - Guzelyurt, Cyprus
Duration: Sep 1 2015Sep 4 2015

Publication series

NameHT 2015 - Proceedings of the 26th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media

Conference

Conference26th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, HT 2015
Country/TerritoryCyprus
CityGuzelyurt
Period9/1/159/4/15

Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Reddit
  • Social media
  • Suicide
  • Werther effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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