Searching for suicide methods: Accessibility of information about helium as a method of suicide on the Internet

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Abstract

Background: Helium gas suicides have increased in England and Wales; easy-to-access descriptions of this method on the Internet may have contributed to this rise. Aims: To investigate the availability of information on using helium as a method of suicide and trends in searching about this method on the Internet. Method: We analyzed trends in (a) Google searching (2004–2014) and (b) hits on a Wikipedia article describing helium as a method of suicide (2013–2014). We also investigated the extent to which helium was described as a method of suicide on web pages and discussion forums identified via Google. Results: We found no evidence of rises in Internet searching about suicide using helium. News stories about helium suicides were associated with increased search activity. The Wikipedia article may have been temporarily altered to increase awareness of suicide using helium around the time of a celebrity suicide. Approximately one third of the links retrieved using Google searches for suicide methods mentioned helium. Conclusion: Information about helium as a suicide method is readily available on the Internet; the Wikipedia article describing its use was highly accessed following celebrity suicides. Availability of online information about this method may contribute to rises in helium suicides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalCrisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
Volume36
Issue number5
Early online date27 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • availability of means
  • method restriction in suicide prevention
  • media
  • Internet and suicidal behavior

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