National Suicide Prevention Month: Can social media posts predict suicide risk of users? - Sovereign Health Group
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09-25-17 Category: Substance Abuse

While scrolling through different posts on social media platforms, one can see a variety of emoticons in action. Angry faces, ghosts, doughnuts, cigarettes, grumpy faces, broken hearts and numerous others, which are sprinkled liberally all over as people use updates to speak their mind. Generally, these colorful little shapes are stark reminders of an individual’s state of mind, speaking volumes about their grief, misery, loneliness or pain.

In fact, psychologists, linguists and computer scientists have discovered that what people share on social media can provide an insight into their mental health. Social media posts hold the clue to understanding what is happening in someone’s mind, and determining his/her vulnerability to one of the nation’s most unmanageable public health concerns — suicide. In recent years, there have been reports of individuals connecting on various social media platforms to form suicide pacts or expressing suicidal feelings.

In a 2016 study, a team of researchers analyzed the emotional content in tweets from hundreds of users who had openly expressed suicidal feelings. The researchers also examined tweets by a control group that did not show suicidal thoughts or feelings. Glen Coppersmith, the founder and CEO of Qntfy who also was a part of the study team, believes in using machine learning to design algorithms that identify trends in human communication. Such an innovative initiative can be utilized to determine someone’s risk of mental health disorders and suicidal behavior. While emoticons were rampant in all the sample posts studied by the team, Coppersmith and his co-researchers observed that people who posted about their suicidal tendencies used more of sad emoticons, compared to other users of the same age group and gender.

In a bid to vent their feelings of depression, low self-esteem, distress and dejection, many susceptible people end up taking their own lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an alarming rise in suicides among both genders and in every age group between 10 and 74. Between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate in the U.S. increased 24 percent to 13 per 100,000 people.

Who is at risk?

Mental disorders are prevalent in all societies, so it becomes essential to determine whether treating these illnesses would translate into a reduction in suicidal rates. Many people suffer from both physical and mental health problems that can lead them to becoming suicidal. As a general rule, integrated primary care services offer a holistic treatment to the patients, meeting needs of both mental health and physical disorder.

Depression is a lifelong condition, wherein therapists should aim to reduce frequent episodes of the mental condition. In doing so, health care professionals need to conduct a more thorough review of a patient’s psychiatric history with depression and anxiety and explore other potential risk factors that could influence a sudden and unexpected episode.

It has been known for long that people with depression are at a higher risk of committing suicide. Experts believe that those who attempt suicide are different from others in many ways, ranging from how they think, react or make decisions. The following causes can lead a person to take the drastic step:

  • Mental disorders such as depression or substance use disorders
  • A prior suicide attempt or an unresolved problem of the past
  • Family history of suicide or a terminal illness
  • Family violence or being socially isolated
  • Incarceration or experiencing low levels of satisfaction in life

It is important to stay close to the person who is contemplating suicide and reassure him or her that all will be well. Many clinical studies have been conducted that focus on various factors that eventually lead to a person committing suicide. Above all, it is more important to make everyone understand that suicide is not the only solution to a problem when one is emotionally distressed.

Poor mental health leaves individuals vulnerable to suicide

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among young Americans aged 10-24. According to the CDC, each year more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss. In the wake of the overwhelming crisis, September is observed as the National Suicide Prevention Month to shed light on the problem of suicide and the underlying mental health issues.

Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California, offers a variety of customized mental health services to treat the afflicted individuals holistically. Specialists at our mental illness treatment centers are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized individual as well as group psychotherapy based on the patient’s requirements. Additionally, patients can also opt for alternative therapeutic activities to embark on the journey to wellness.

If you or your loved one is battling depression or any mental health disorder, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives. Our world-class mental health treatment facilities spread across California are known for their effective recovery programs, which have helped many individuals to regain control of their lives.

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