Developing an early warning system of suicide using Google Trends and media reporting

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Author(s)

  • Chai Yi
  • Luo Hao
  • Cheng Qijin
  • Carrie S.M. Lui
  • Paul S.F. Yip

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Journal / PublicationJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume255
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Abstract

Background: Conventional surveillance systems for suicides typically suffer from a substantial time lag of six months to two years. This study aims to develop an early warning system of possible suicide outbreaks in Hong Kong using Google Trends and suicide-related media reporting. 
Methods: Data on 3,534 suicides from 2011 to 2015 were obtained from Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, and the Coroner's Court. Using data from Google Trends and features extracted from media reporting on suicide news, we fitted Poisson regression models to predict the number and estimate the intensity of suicides on a weekly basis, for six subgroups, defined by gender and age. We adopted the cumulative sum (CUSUM)control chart-based method to identify outbreaks of suicide. 
Results: The proposed model was able to predict the number of suicides with reasonably low normalized root mean squared errors, ranging from 15.6% for young females to 24.16% for old females. The suicide intensity curves were well captured by the proposed models for young males and females, but not for other groups. The Sensitivity, Precision and F1 Score of the CUSUM-based method were 50%, 100% and 67% for young females, and 93%, 54% and 68% for young males. 
Limitations: This study focused only on predicting the number of suicides in the current week, not in the future weeks. The model did not include social media, socioeconomic and climate data. 
Conclusions: Our results indicate that Google Trends search terms and media reporting data may be valuable data sources for predicting possible outbreak of suicides in Hong Kong. The proposed system could support effective and targeted interventions.

Research Area(s)

  • Early warning system, Google Trends, Hong Kong, Media reporting, Suicide news, Suicide prediction

Citation Format(s)

Developing an early warning system of suicide using Google Trends and media reporting. / Chai Yi; Luo Hao, ; Zhang Qingpeng; Cheng Qijin; Lui, Carrie S.M.; Yip, Paul S.F.

In: Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 255, 01.08.2019, p. 41-49.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review