Assessing suicide attempts and depression among Chinese speakers over the Internet
Liu, N.H., Contreras, O., Munoz, R.F., & Leykin, Y.
Background: In populations where mental health resources are scarce or unavailable, or where stigma prevents help-seeking, the Internet may be a way to identify and reach at-risk persons using self-report validated screening tools as well as to characterize individuals seeking health information online. Aims: We examined the feasibility of delivering an Internet-based Chinese-language depression and suicide screener and described its users. Method: An Internet-based depression and suicide screener was created and advertised primarily through Google AdWords. Participants completed a suicide and depression screening measure and received individualized feedback, which, if necessary, included the suggestion to seek additional mental health resources. Results: In 7 months, 11,631 individuals visited the site; 4,709 provided valid information. Nearly half reported a current major depressive episode (MDE) and 18.3% a recent suicide attempt; however, over 75% reported never having sought help, including 77.7% of those with MDEs and 75.9% of those reporting a suicide attempt. As participants found the site by searching for depression information online, results may not generalize to the entire Chinese-speaking population. Conclusion: Online screening can feasibly identify and reach many at-risk Chinese-speaking persons. It may provide resources to those with limited access to services or to those reluctant to seek such services.