Eduardo J. Aguilar, Soledad Jorge, Ana Rubio, Samuel G. Siris
Clinical University Hospital, Valencia, Spain; Zucker-Hillside Hospital, North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System. Glen Oaks, New York, USA
Internet and Suicide. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 452 pages.
Mass media have the capacity of influencing behavior, including suicidal behavior in vulnerable individuals. An imitation effect has been demonstrated although some questions and some controversies persist concerning what makes certain people more vulnerable, what the exact mechanisms of the effect are, and what constitute the best protective steps. Moreover, much of the evidence which has been gathered lacks clear specifications in regard with psychiatric diagnoses, making it difficult to ascertain what role is played by psychosis in the process. In particular, the Internet has a huge potential for communication and recent reports suggest it may both benefit and hamper preventive strategies against suicide. Additionally, telepsychiatry, a model of care with clear connections with Internet is now being used with fairly good evidence of success. Suicidal behaviors may be approached by this modality but a number of difficulties have yet to be overcome. Controversial findings, frequent and rapid changes in the mass media and a lack of research studies on these issues preclude definitive conclusions. Unfortunately, data are particularly scarce on the potential effects of mass media on suicidal behavior in patients with psychotic disorders. This is especially true for the Internet. To our knowledge, no research study has specifically addressed the effects of this medium on the suicidal behavior of psychotic patients. Available data and reflections by the authors are presented in this chapter which is also aimed at helping mental health professionals to orientate their patients on how to take advantage of mass media while not being damaged from them.