The Search for “Suicide Searches” on the Internet

Mar 07, 2017

“The earth keeps no ruin:
a green glaze will heal the scars.
Where old trees fall, young sprouts shoot.”

Deng Ming-Dao
from The Living I Ching

The Search for “Suicide Searches” on the Internet

TISA Description of the Problem: We are always updating our clinical interviewing techniques to match the contemporary nuances of our ever-changing culture. Obviously the web has transformed our culture, arguably, more than any other single factor over the past decade. The following practical tip by Robb Hinds, MSA from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) addresses an important new aspect of suicide assessment.

Tip: With the ubiquitous nature of the web, I have found the following question to be of routine use during my suicide assessments:

“Have you spent any time researching ways to commit suicide on the internet or elsewhere?”

TISA Follow-up: The art of learning and teaching clinical interviewing is always filled with advances shaped by the times in which we live and here is a nice example from Robb Hinds. It is simple and direct. It may provide a reflection of how much suicidal intent the client may have, as mirrored by the amount of effort and time they have spent performing such web searches. Indeed, it is useful to follow-up with questions such as, “How many different times have you gone to the web to make such searches?” “If you added up all the time you’ve spent on the web researching suicide, how many hours do you think you’ve spent?”

In a different light, it is also useful for clinicians to know “what is out there” on the web on suicide. And inquiries such as that suggested by Robb Hind can help us to gain that familiarity.

Tip provided by:

Robb Hind, MA
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art
Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing