Findings surrounding internet searches on the topic of suicide

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Lucy Biddle, Ph.D., of the University of Bristol and colleagues, recently reported some interesting findings surrounding internet searches on the topic of suicide, which findings were reported in the April 12th issue of BMJ. According to the report, if an individual is contemplating suicide, it is easier to find a way to commit the act than to get help to prevent it when using popular internet search engines. According to Dr. Biddle, the three most retrieved sites from the group’s search provided detailed descriptions of ways to commit suicide. The fourth most frequent site was Wikipedia, which actually provided information on various ways to commit suicide as well. “This research shows it is very easy to obtain detailed technical information about methods of suicide, not just from the suicide sites that have caused recent concerns but also from information sites such as Wikipedia,” they said. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the team’s findings:

Dr. Biddle and colleagues conducted a search using the four most popular search engines on the Internet — Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask.

They entered 12 simple terms into each search engine and analyzed the top 10 results of each, yielding 480 total results and 240 different sites.

Search terms included “suicide methods,” “how to commit suicide,” “how to kill yourself,” and others.

Each site was then categorized according to the type of content: for example, pro-suicide, academic, or news.

Nineteen percent of the sites were dedicated to suicide, either providing encouragement or information on methods.

Sites focusing on suicide prevention or providing support comprised 13% and another 12% explicitly forbade or discouraged the act.

The most frequently retrieved site was Alt Suicide Holiday, which showed up in half of the 48 searches and provided information on how to commit suicide.

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