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.

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Companies: google trends

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Comments on “The Google Trends Suicide Watch”

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Some person says:

A bit obvious

Oddly, Wagstaff notes that a similar boost is not seen in just the basic search of “how to commit suicide.”

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?”

Enrico Suarve says:

Different search

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)

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:

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.

Simon (profile) says:

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: 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.

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