The Google Trends Suicide Watch
from the well,-that's-depressing dept
Jeremy Wagstaff has done a fascinating (if morbid) little analysis using Google Trends to track the popularity of the search phrase “commit suicide painlessly.” Perhaps not too surprisingly, it appears to track the economy. That is, it was relatively flat for a while, but spiked in October 2008 through March 2009 — though, it’s since come back down. As he notes, this isn’t exactly a small blip — it was over an extended period of time. He digs down a bit in the data, which suggests that while the US is a lot less suicidal these days, things are still a bit on edge over in the UK (you guys doing ok?). What would be interesting now would be to correlate that data with actual suicides. Oddly, Wagstaff notes that a similar boost is not seen in just the basic search of “how to commit suicide.” That makes me wonder if the “commit suicide painlessly” search is suffering from a small sample size problem. Still, it’s yet another fun little “economic indicator” found from public data, similar to the post we had recently on analyzing job trends via Facebook status. While the data might not mean much yet, the fact that there is so much more data so easily accessible is really powerful.
Filed Under: suicide, trends
Companies: google trends
Comments on “The Google Trends Suicide Watch”
A bit obvious
There isn’t really much hope for somebody who doesn’t know how to do himself in. How hard could it possibly be? People aren’t searching for that for the same reason people don’t ask questions like, “If I shoot myself in the head twelve times, will I be okay?”
Re: A bit obvious
As somebody who spends way more time in the medical field than I’d like to admit: It is much harder than most people think.
I think you just outlined the next Google lawsuit. Google is performing assisted suicides.
correlation vs causality
of course simply publishing this article will lead to an increase in google searches of “commit suicide painlessly” leading to a senseless increase in the suicide rate 😉
Re: correlation vs causality
Re: correlation vs causality
This is just for laughs right? XKCD has a ton of comics based on odd trends in Google searches.
If he is going to draw attention to the subject he could at least use a search like “Commit suicide without leaving a mess”. My mate’s an ambulance driver and he’d appreciate those checking out to do so cleanly or at least in a manner that he’s not going to still remember graphically after the 10th drink
Those about to die we salute you – unless you’re about to jump in front of a train in which case fuck you, you thoughtless bastards ;0)
Suicide is Painless
Am I the only one reminded of the song “Suicide is Painless”? It’s the theme song for M*A*S*H.
Very interesting and creative use of Google Trends. I’m not surprised people are looking for a painless suicide. If they are at the point of seriously considering suicide they’ve had enough pain already. Suicide is not the answer, btw.
“Suicide is not the answer, btw.”
Depends on the question. For instance, if the question is “What is a better fate than watching prime time programming on the Lifetime Network?”, I think suicide is a very apt answer.
Re: Re: Trending...
Depends on the question.
suicide is not the answer. suicide is the question. yes is the answer.
Re: Re: Re: Trending...
Yes, of course…
Interesting Study But
I believe domestic voilence and homicide will more closly track economic trends. Lets face it even the most depressed people get a little queasy about doing themselves in. I believe its much more likley that they attempt to do in the party or party’s responsible either real or perceived first before they think about finishing themselves off.
Its an interesting blip in a statistical measure, that’s all. No big deal. People were committing suicide long before Google came along.
Perminent Solution to Temporary Problem
I have a pain in the diodes in my left side.
There has been a bit of coverage in the UK about people going to a Swiss clinic in order to commit assisted suicide. See for example this story: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/after-54-years-together-they-decided-to-die-together-1746472.html which was on the front page of one of the ‘quality’ national papers yesterday.
That *might* help account for the rise in interest in the UK.
Very interesting, I think this is a pretty important improvement.
Rent a car
driver and he’d appreciate those checking out to do so cleanly or at least in a manner that he’s not going to still remember graphically after the 10th drink
Wow didn’t hear of that till now.