A new study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University suggests that social media websites, such as Twitter, can act as an early warning system in preventing suicides.
The researchers analyzed millions of tweets from all the 50 states over a period of three months and matched them for keywords that directly discussed suicide or other associated words such as bullying. In total the researchers found over 38,000 tweets that they viewed as 'disturbing' from over 28,000 users.
On comparing them with the suicide rates, the researchers found that each state's ratio of suicidal tweets strongly correlated with its actual suicide rate.
"Somebody ought to do something. With social media, kids sometimes say things that they aren't saying out loud to an adult or friend in person. How about using social media as a complement to what is already done for suicide prevention?", co-author of the study, Christophe Giraud-Carrier said.