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Google Searches for Suicide and Risk of Suicide
Tim A. Bruckner, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Christopher McClure; Yonsu Kim, M.A.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300211
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Dr. Bruckner and Mr. Kim are with the Department of Public Health and Planning, Policy and Design, University of California, Irvine. Mr. McClure is with the Centre of Public Health Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik.

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association


To the Editor: Routine surveillance of disease incidence is a core function of public health programs (1). Surveillance systems for mental disorders, however, remain underdeveloped despite strong temporal variation in the incidence of these disorders. Recently Google, the most commonly used search engine in the world, launched “Google Trends.” This Web site allows the public to gather statistics on queries made to the Google.com search engine. To the extent that depression—a key risk factor for suicide—and suicidal ideation presage an increased risk of suicide completion, surveillance of Google Trends queries may assist with focused bursts of suicide prevention efforts. We tested whether suicide-related Google searches predict the monthly incidence of completed suicides. We examined England and Wales because of their publicly available suicide database and their high societal cost of premature death from suicide ($9.2 billion in 2009) (2).

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 International Health Regulations , 2nd ed.  Geneva,  World Health Organization, 2005
Knapp  M;  McDaid  D;  Parsonage  M (eds): Mental Health Promotion and Prevention: The Economic Case. London, Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2011
McCarthy  MJ:  Internet monitoring of suicide risk in the population.  Journal of Affective Disorders 122:277–279, 2010
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Sueki  H:  Does the volume of Internet searches using suicide-related search terms influence the suicide death rate? Data from 2004 to 2009 in Japan.  Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 65:392–394, 2011
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Box  G;  Jenkins  G;  Reinsel  G:  Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control .  London,  Prentice Hall, 1994
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