Social media interventions for young adults living with suicidal ideation

Paul Dodemaide1, Dr Mark Merolli2, Dr Nicole Hill1, Professor Lynette Joubert1

1Social Work Department, Melbourne School of Health Sciences / University of Melbourne / Australia, Melbourne, Australia, 2Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre, Melbourne Medical School / University of Melbourne / Australia, Melbourne, Australia


Understanding and responding to the lived experience of suicidal ideation (SI) continues to pose a great challenge and opportunity for health and mental health, advocates and clinicians.  Social media (SM) and their therapeutic affordances (TA) have proven to be effective in improving patient reported outcomes in the health and mental health fields, however similar evidence-based research surrounding SM and SI is in its infancy.  Methodologically a TA perspective has its foundations in ecological and behavioural psychology, here seeking to understand the mechanisms that connect a patient’s perceived actionable possibilities within SM to their reported outcomes.  This presentation reports on a scoping review of literature identifying SI outcomes from SM use, giving consideration to the conceptualisation of respective potential TA.


A literature search of seven databases, ASSIA, PsycINFO, MEDline, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, Web of Science, and PubMed was conducted in November 2015.  Search terms (and derivatives) ‘suicidal ideation’ AND ‘social media’ AND ‘outcomes’ were used


Fifteen peer-reviewed articles were included.  Positive (n= 8) and negative (n= 3) suicidal ideation outcomes were reported.  Four articles explored motives and experiences of suicide-related SM users.  Attributable TA elicited and proposed include: narration, connection, information-seeking, collaboration, and introspection.

Significance of the findings to allied health:

SM and their TA are effective in reducing SI experiences among their users.  Adverse findings involved research broadly defining suicide-related internet use.  Further research is required to explore SM TA and patient reported outcomes in this consumer group.