From the Editor

More and more, people use social media to debate current events, share personal experiences, and maybe enjoy a cat video or two. But if people are disclosing much, are they discussing suicidal thoughts? Could certain social media posts encourage people to get help?

In the first selection, Dr. Thomas Niederkrotenthaler (of the Medical University of Vienna) and his co-authors attempt to answer these questions with a new paper just published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Drawing on more than 7.15 million tweets (from Twitter) and employing a machine learning approach, they divide content into several categories, then review volumes of calls to a suicide hotline and completed suicides. “This is the first large-scale study to suggest that daily volume of specific suicide-prevention-related social media content on Twitter corresponds to higher daily levels of help-seeking behaviour and lower daily number of suicide deaths.” We mull the paper and its implications.

Social media: more than cat videos?

In this week’s second selection, we consider a new Quick Takes podcast interview with Dr. David Castle (of the University of Toronto). Dr. Castle discusses crystal methamphetamine, a drug used more and more in Canada. Drawing on his Australian experience and noting the rise in use here, he comments: “it’s highly prevalent, highly available, highly pure and highly destructive.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Jamison A. Harvey (of the Mayo Clinic) and her co-authors take a look at communication between patients and their physicians. Drawing on nearly 30,000 email messages, they consider the way patients address their physicians in a new JAMA Network Open research letter. “This is the first study to objectively identify patterns of addressing physicians through electronic messaging and may reveal potential bias. We found that women physicians… and primary care physicians were addressed by their first name more frequently.”


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