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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  1.  
    identicon
    Some person, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 5:21am

    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?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Mike, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 5:39am

    Great

    I think you just outlined the next Google lawsuit. Google is performing assisted suicides.

     

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  3.  
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    cryptozoologist (profile), Jul 14th, 2009 @ 5:58am

    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 ;-)

     

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  4.  
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    Chunky Vomit, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:03am

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Bryan Rosander (profile), Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    XKCD

    This is just for laughs right? XKCD has a ton of comics based on odd trends in Google searches.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    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)

     

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  7.  
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    Michael Witt (profile), Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    NullOp, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Trending...

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:54am

    Re: Trending...

    "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.

     

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  10.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 14th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Trending...

    Depends on the question.

    suicide is not the answer. suicide is the question. yes is the answer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Bradley Stewart, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    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.

     

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  12.  
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    interval, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    Its an interesting blip in a statistical measure, that's all. No big deal. People were committing suicide long before Google came along.

     

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  13.  
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    Paranoid Android, Jul 14th, 2009 @ 9:59pm

    Perminent Solution to Temporary Problem

    I have a pain in the diodes in my left side.

     

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  14.  
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    Simon, Jul 15th, 2009 @ 2:38am

    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.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re: correlation vs causality

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    inchirierimasini (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 7:39am

    Very interesting, I think this is a pretty important improvement.
    Rent a car

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Re: correlation vs causality

    ha

     

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  18.  
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    grow taller, Aug 28th, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Nice

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    rent a car, Nov 20th, 2010 @ 3:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Trending...

    Yes, of course...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Jennifer, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Wow didn't hear of that till now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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