Social networking sites (SNS) are the most popular venues for young adults to meet, share information, and communicate. Across the globe, users are staying connected with various SNSs like Facebook. In Japan, the most popular SNS is called “mixi.” With over 25 million users, mixi allows members to join for free, create friendships, and join communities. It also presents a ripe environment for data retrieval. Because so many young adults use mixi, Naoki Masuda of the Department of Mathematical Informatics at the University of Tokyo thought it would be an idea place to collect information about user trends related to suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death among young adults in Japan and research into suicidal ideation among this segment of the population could help propel efforts aimed at reducing risk.
Masuda considered social isolation, social friendships, and social networking- through communities with suicidal content for the study. After reviewing how many friendships users had and how many suicidal-content communities they were affiliated with, Masuda concluded that social isolation and connection were directly related to suicidal ideation. More specifically, the more suicide related communities that a member belonged to, the higher their risk for suicidal ideation.
Slightly lower risk was evidenced by overlapping triangles of communities, in which a member belonged to several communities with other members. The lowest risk for suicidal ideation, although still high, was in the instance of friend networks overlapping with community memberships. “Remarkably,” added Masuda, “the most significant three variables represent online social behavior of users rather than demographic properties such as the age and gender.”
The associations found in this study persisted when Masuda replaced suicidal ideation with depression. The order of risk factors remained the same when the members were assessed for depressive symptoms and depression community affiliations and triangles. Mixi is comprised of users of all types and provides access to communities of every nature. Therefore, a SNS such as mixi could offer a robust and relative pool of data for research examining the risk trends of other psychological issues, including substance abuse, bipolar, and schizophrenia.
Masuda, N., Kurahashi, I., Onari, H. (2013). Suicide Ideation of Individuals in Online Social Networks. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62262. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062262
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.