Hyperlinked suicide: Assessing the prominence and accessibility of suicide websites
Kemp, C.G. & Collings, S.C.
Background: The relationship between the Internet and suicide is a topic of growing concern among suicide researchers and the public, though to date few have actually attempted to investigate the accessibility and prominence of suicide-related information online, and there have been no comprehensive studies of site networking structure. Aims: To assess the visibility of various types of online information to suicide-risk individuals, and to assess the prominence and accessibility of "pro-suicide," suicide prevention, and support sites by measuring their networking structure. Methods: Employing empirically derived search terms, we used the web-based Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) to conduct hyperlink network analysis (HNA) of suicide-related websites. Results: Pro-suicide sites are rare and marginal, while sites dedicated to information about suicide as well as sites dedicated to prevention policy and advocacy are readily accessible. Conclusions: The networking structure of suicide-related Internet content has not been described previously. Our analysis shows that HNA is a useful method for gaining an indepth understanding of network traffic in relation to suicide-content websites. This information will be useful for strengthening the web presence of support and suicide prevention sites, and for monitoring changes over time.