The Good Life Research Centre Trust, Rangiora. North Canterbury, New Zealand
Internet and Suicide. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 452 pages.
There has been some concern about the influence of the media (including the internet, the reporting of and the portrayal of suicide in the entertainment industry) on suicidal behaviour. The internet is hailed as the information super highway, which provides an uncontrolled media environment. With its ever increasing popularity, it is not surprising that the spotlight is on the internet as a medium with particular reference to suicidal behaviour. However, the evidence suggests that despite the huge amount of literature on suicide we still know very little about suicide. And as frustrated researchers we tend to interpret any red herring as a new lead. For too long studies of human behaviour have been viewed as cause and effect thus researchers have been examining the probability of an effect from an identified cause. Studies of this kind have no doubt influenced policy. But, there is evidence that poor methodology and a lack of attention to substantive and statistical issues behind such studies may have inadvertently made researchers, policy makers and the public part of the problem. Whilst western societies advocate “freedom”, our solutions often involve the opposite. We lock up patients and force treatment (often a cocktail of medications) onto them, and encourage health practitioners to prescribe anti-depressants for symptoms resembling depression, when often what is required is to simply listen. We treat suicide as depression. In this chapter I discuss some of the relevant issues in studying human behaviour which will also include researchers, practitioners and the media. For example, because the processes of belonging to a society is often ignored the internet is yet another red herring pursued by researchers. Thus, if suicide is viewed as a process of decision making then the internet is merely another information tool which is developed and managed, facilitated and utilised by the society.