Exploring the therapeutic role of social media for young adults living with suicidal ideation: an overview of a developing PhD project

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

1Social Work Department, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

2Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre / University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia



Understanding and responding to the lived experience of suicidal ideation (SI) poses challenges and opportunities for allied health clinicians.  Social media (SM) and their therapeutic affordances (TA) have proven effective in improving patient reported outcomes within health and mental health research, however a similar evidence-based for SM and SI remains scarce.  A TA perspective has its foundation in ecological and behavioral psychology.  In SM studies, TA emphasizes the mechanisms linking consumer-perceived action opportunities, to their respective patient-reported outcomes.  This presentation reports on a developing PhD project seeking to explore the therapeutic role of SM for people experiencing SI.



Reported methods relate to an exhaustive scoping review.  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



Scoping review included fifteen peer-reviewed articles.  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.  SM and their TA are effective in reducing SI experiences among their users.  Adverse findings involved research broadly defining suicide-related internet use


Significance of the findings to allied health:

Developing an evidence-base SM prescription to empower and enable consumers to reduce, manage, and/or control their SI, has utility for consumers, allied health, nursing, and medical practitioners alike.