Caught in the web: A review of web-based suicide prevention

Mee Huong Lai, Thambu Maniam, Lai Fong Chan, Arun V. Ravindran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Suicide is a serious and increasing problem worldwide. The emergence of the digital world has had a tremendous impact on people's lives, both negative and positive, including an impact on suicidal behaviors. Objective: Our aim was to perform a review of the published literature on Web-based suicide prevention strategies, focusing on their efficacy, benefits, and challenges. Methods: The EBSCOhost (Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL), OvidSP, the Cochrane Library, and ScienceDirect databases were searched for literature regarding Web-based suicide prevention strategies from 1997 to 2013 according to the modified PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement. The selected articles were subjected to quality rating and data extraction. Results: Good quality literature was surprisingly sparse, with only 15 fulfilling criteria for inclusion in the review, and most were rated as being medium to low quality. Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (iCBT) reduced suicidal ideation in the general population in two randomized controlled trial (effect sizes, d=0.04-0.45) and in a clinical audit of depressed primary care patients. Descriptive studies reported improved accessibility and reduced barriers to treatment with Internet among students. Besides automated iCBT, preventive strategies were mainly interactive (email communication, online individual or supervised group support) or information-based (website postings). The benefits and potential challenges of accessibility, anonymity, and text-based communication as key components for Web-based suicide prevention strategies were emphasized. Conclusions: There is preliminary evidence that suggests the probable benefit of Web-based strategies in suicide prevention. Future larger systematic research is needed to confirm the effectiveness and risk benefit ratio of such strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Fingerprint

Suicide
Internet
Cognitive Therapy
Communication
Clinical Audit
Suicidal Ideation
Libraries
Meta-Analysis
Primary Health Care
Randomized Controlled Trials
Odds Ratio
Databases
Students
Research
Population
Therapeutics

Keywords

  • Internet
  • Suicide prevention
  • Web-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Cite this

Caught in the web : A review of web-based suicide prevention. / Lai, Mee Huong; Maniam, Thambu; Chan, Lai Fong; Ravindran, Arun V.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, e30, 01.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lai, Mee Huong ; Maniam, Thambu ; Chan, Lai Fong ; Ravindran, Arun V. / Caught in the web : A review of web-based suicide prevention. In: Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014 ; Vol. 16, No. 1.
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