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Publication - Dr Lucy Biddle

    Searching for suicide methods

    Accessibility of information about helium as a method of suicide on the Internet


    Gunnell, D, Derges, J, Chang, S-S & Biddle, LA, 2015, ‘Searching for suicide methods: Accessibility of information about helium as a method of suicide on the Internet’. Crisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, vol 36., pp. 325-331


    Background: Helium gas suicides have increased in England and
    Wales; easy-to-access descriptions of this method on
    the Internet may have contributed to this rise. Aims:
    To investigate the availability of information on
    using helium as a method of suicide and trends in searching
    about this method on the Internet. Method: We analyzed
    trends in (a) Google searching (2004–2014) and (b)
    hits on a Wikipedia article describing helium as a
    method of suicide (2013–2014). We also investigated the
    extent to which helium was described as a method of suicide on web
    pages and discussion forums identified via Google. Results:
    We found no evidence of rises in Internet searching
    about suicide using helium. News stories about
    helium suicides were associated with increased search activity. The
    Wikipedia article may have been temporarily altered to
    increase awareness of suicide using helium around
    the time of a celebrity suicide. Approximately one
    third of the links retrieved using Google searches for suicide methods
    mentioned helium. Conclusion: Information
    about helium as a suicide method is readily
    available on the Internet; the Wikipedia article describing
    its use was highly accessed following celebrity suicides.
    Availability of online information about this method
    may contribute to rises in helium suicides.

    Full details in the University publications repository