Helen Christensen, Philip J. Batterham, and Bridianne O'Dea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(8), 8193-8212
Many people at risk of suicide do not seek help before an attempt, and do not remain connected to health services following an attempt. E-health interventions are now being considered as a means to identify at-risk individuals, offer self-help through web interventions or to deliver proactive interventions in response to individuals’ posts on social media. In this article, we examine research studies which focus on these three aspects of suicide and the internet: the use of online screening for suicide, the effectiveness of e-health interventions aimed to manage suicidal thoughts, and newer studies which aim to proactively intervene when individuals at risk of suicide are identified by their social media postings. We conclude that online screening may have a role, although there is a need for additional robust controlled research to establish whether suicide screening can effectively reduce suicide-related outcomes, and in what settings online screening might be most effective. The effectiveness of Internet interventions may be increased if these interventions are designed to specifically target suicidal thoughts, rather than associated conditions such as depression. The evidence for the use of intervention practices using social media is possible, although validity, feasibility and implementation remains highly uncertain.
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