University of Tokyo researchers are using Mixi, an online social network with more than 25 million users, to study people who have regular thoughts about suicide.
Mixi enables users to become members of online communities on various user-defined topics. The researchers, led by Naoki Masuda, compared the members of these groups, about 10,000 individuals, with a control group of more than 200,000 users who are not members of these groups. Their work is published in "Suicide Ideation Of Individuals In Online Social Networks."
The researchers found that people who have regular thoughts about suicide have about the same number of friends as people in the control group. However, those prone to suicide thoughts are much less likely to be members of friendship triangles, meaning they have fewer friends who also are friends with each other.
In addition, the research found that people prone to suicide thoughts are likely to be members of more community groups than those in the control group, which may be a result of spending more time online and of a desire to interact.
From Technology Review
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