The Impact of Suicidality-Related Internet Use: A Prospective Large Cohort Study with Young and Middle-Aged Internet Users

National Institute of Mental Health, Japan
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 04/2014; 9(4):e94841. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094841
Source: PubMed


There has been no study that has allowed clear conclusions about the impact of suicide-related or mental health consultation-related internet use.
To investigate the impacts of suicide-related or mental health consultation-related internet use.
We conducted prospective observational longitudinal study with data collection at baseline screening (T0), 1 week after T0 (T1) and 7 weeks after T0 (T2). Participants with a stratified random sampling from 744,806 internet users were 20-49 years of age who employed the internet for suicide-related or mental health consultation-related reasons and internet users who did not. The main outcome was suicidal ideation. Secondary outcome measures comprised hopelessness, depression/anxiety, and loneliness.
The internet users who had employed the internet for suicide-related or mental health consultation-related reasons at T0 (n = 2813), compared with those who had not (n = 2682), showed a significant increase in suicidal ideation (β = 0.38, 95%CI: 0.20-0.55) and depression/anxiety (β = 0.37, 95%CI: 0.12-0.61) from T1 to T2. Those who disclosed their own suicidal ideation and browsed for information about suicide methods on the web showed increased suicidal ideation (β = 0.55, 95%CI: 0.23-0.88; β = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.26-0.63, respectively). Although mental health consultation with an anonymous other online did not increase suicidal ideation, increased depression/anxiety was observed (β = 0.34, 95%CI: -0.03-0.71).
An increased suicidal ideation was observed in the young and middle-aged who employed the internet for suicide-related or mental health consultation-related reasons. Mental health consultation via the internet was not useful, but those who did so showed worsened depression/anxiety.

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Available from: Naohiro Yonemoto, Jul 21, 2014
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    • "A cross-sectional study based on a detailed review of the inquest reports from suicides showed that the individuals had used the Internet to research the methods of suicide they used in some cases (Gunnell et al., 2012). A large online cohort study by Sueki et al. (2014) showed that the rate of suicide planning over the lifetime was significantly higher in suicide-related Internet users (44.3%) than in a control group (8.3%). In other words, those who search for information using suicide-related keywords are likely to be at high risk of suicide. "
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