Geospatial mapping of suicide-related tweets and sentiments among Malaysians during the COVID-19 pandemic
Rusli, N., Nordin, N.Z., Matusin, A.M.R.A., Yusof, J.N., Bosley, M.S.F., Ling G.H.T., ... & Baka, S.Z.A.
The government enacted the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia, restricting movement and shutting down several commercial enterprises around the nation. The crisis, which lasted over two years and featured a few MCOs, had an impact on Malaysians’ mental health. This study aimed to understand the context of using the word “suicide” on Twitter among Malaysians during the pandemic. “Suicide” is a keyword searched for on Twitter when mining data with the NCapture plugin. Using NVivo 12 software, we used the content analysis approach to detect the theme of tweets discussed by tweeps. The tweet content was then analyzed using VADER sentiment analysis to determine if it was positive, negative, or neutral. We conducted a spatial pattern distribution of tweets, revealing high numbers from Kuala Lumpur, Klang, Subang Jaya, Kangar, Alor Setar, Chukai, Kuantan, Johor Bharu, and Kota Kinabalu. Our analysis of tweet content related to the word “suicide” revealed three (3) main themes: (i) criticism of the government of that day (CGD) (N = 218, 55.68%), (ii) awareness related to suicide (AS) (N = 162, 41.44%), and (iii) suicidal feeling or experience (SFE) (N = 12, 2.88%). The word “suicide” conveyed both negative and positive sentiments. Negative tweets expressed frustration and disappointment with the government’s response to the pandemic and its economic impact. In contrast, positive tweets spread hope, encouragement, and support for mental health and relationship building. This study highlights the potential of social-media big data to understand the users’ virtual behavior in an unprecedented pandemic situation and the importance of considering cultural differences and nuances in sentiment analysis. The spatial pattern information was useful in identifying areas that may require additional resources or interventions to address suicide risk. This study underscores the importance of timely and cost-effective social media data analysis for valuable insights into public opinion and attitudes toward specific topics.