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The association of trends in charcoal-burning suicide with Google search and newspaper reporting in Taiwan: a time series analysis

, : The association of trends in charcoal-burning suicide with Google search and newspaper reporting in Taiwan: a time series analysis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 50(9): 1451-1461

Some East/Southeast Asian countries have experienced a rapid increase in suicide by charcoal burning over the past decade. Media reporting and Internet use were thought to contribute to the epidemic. We investigated the association between method-specific suicide incidence and both Internet search volume and newspaper reporting in Taiwan. Weekly data for suicide, suicide-related Google search volume, and the number of articles reporting suicide in four major newspapers in Taiwan during 2008-2011 were obtained. Poisson autoregressive regression models were used to examine the associations between these variables. In the fully adjusted models, every 10 % increase in Google searches was associated with a 4.3 % [95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.1-7.6 %] increase in charcoal-burning suicide incidence in the same week, and a 3.8 % (95 % CI 0.4-7.2 %) increase in the following week. A one-article increase in the United Daily was associated with a 3.6 % (95 % CI 1.5-5.8 %) increase in charcoal-burning suicide in the same week. By contrast, non-charcoal-burning suicide was not associated with Google search volume, but was associated with the Apple Daily's reporting in the preceding week. We found that increased Internet searches for charcoal-burning suicide appeared to be associated with a subsequent increase in suicide by this method. The prevention of suicide using emerging methods may include monitoring and regulating online information that provides details of these methods as well as encouraging Internet service providers to provide help-seeking information.


PMID: 25859754

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-015-1057-7

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