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Social Networks, Suicide and Statistics 66

Posted by timothy
from the you-and-31-friends-like-the-black-capsule dept.
mikejuk writes "The data that is available in social networks is often used to detect the opinion of the crowd — but can it reveal the state of mind of the individual. New research suggests that some simple but non-obvious characteristics of social network use are related to suicide. Data mining is usually about determining things of economic advantage, but in this case, suicide we have a personal loss and an economic one. A new paper by a group of Japanese researchers Naoki Masuda, Issei Kurahashi and Hiroko Onari claims to have found ways of detecting suicidal tendencies — or at least the tendency to think about suicide, so-called 'suicide ideation.' The study used the Japanese social network mixi, which has over 27 million members and allows users to join any of over 4.5 million topic groups — some focusing on the subject of suicide. This provided a study and control group to compare. The most interesting finding is that while users in the suicide group had lots of friends, they didn't have as many transitive relationships i.e. where A friends B friends C friends A. This suggests that it isn't lack of friends but a lack of tight social groupings that is a factor. The same technique could be used to investigate similar problems such as depression and alcohol abuse."
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Social Networks, Suicide and Statistics

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  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:54AM (#40574517) Homepage Journal

    the most interesting finding is that while users in the suicide group had lots of friends, they didn't have as many transitive relationships i.e. where A friends B friends C friends A. This suggests that it isn't lack of friends but a lack of tight social groupings that is a factor.

    - or it could be just that these people are mostly unknown to each other in the real life.

    • by Exrio (2646817) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:05AM (#40574551)

      You don't have to know each other in real life to have a tight social group. It happens online too.

      I'd rephrase it as: "These are not real friends, just people they stumbled upon on the Internet."

      I don't use social networks but I have a feeling that's mostly what ends up happening.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:40AM (#40574697) Homepage Journal

      "lack of tight social groupings" is the "real friends" part I suppose.

      anyways, what comes out of it is that youth should be encouraged to join GANGS!

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      - or it could be just that these people are mostly unknown to each other in the real life.

      Which would be the definition of "lack of tight social groupings"

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        No, it's only a 'lack of tight social groupings' in that specific Internet social network.

  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:58AM (#40574521)
    • 1) People who successfully commit suicide do not poll well.
    • 2) Most that fail to commit suicide realize they shouldn't be looking for help on social networks.
    • 3) Those that fail to commit suicide and then fail to realize they shouldn't be looking for help on social networks attempt suicide again. If successful, see 1, if unsuccessful, loop until 3.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "2) Most that fail to commit suicide realize they shouldn't be looking for help on social networks."

      They should have inferred that from posts suggesting they "an hero", but some folks are a bit dense...

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:46AM (#40574707)
    Where's the control group of people who abstain from social networks?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The control group was the 200,000 members they selected to analyze who were NOT members of suicide forums on mixi. Perhaps you should go learn what "control group" means, before you start shouting about a study's lack of a control group.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously. None of it is needed or even desireable. It's like overdosing on TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, Hollywood Insider, and a bajillion other "social" networking concepts - which are all desigend to make people think they are clebrities.

    Fuck them all.

  • by erice (13380) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:12PM (#40576773) Homepage

    Which often aren't tight at all. All it means that you know many of the same people. It doesn't mean you are close to any of them.

    The "non-triangular" connections may actually be more important since they represent interest in the specific individual.

    I would be curious about non-reciprocal links, if the social network supports the concept.

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  • by Cyfun (667564)
    Top of their list: Tom Anderson of Myspace. He created a social networking site for the sole purpose that it would force everyone to be his friend. However, in the end, he has 11,781,293 friends, but hasn't even met one of them in person.

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