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Epidemiological characteristics and behaviors of online broadcast suicidality in China: implications for targeted prevention strategies.

OBJECTIVES: Suicide is a global health concern, exacerbated by stigma around mental illnesses. Online platforms like Twitter and Sina Weibo have seen a rise in "online broadcast suicide," where individuals share suicidal thoughts and actions. However, there is limited understanding of the epidemiological characteristics, particularly in China. This study aims to analyze the demographics and behaviors of individuals engaging in online broadcast suicide in China to inform targeted prevention strategies.

METHODS: A total of 525 incidents were identified through systematic retrieval of relevant news reports from online sources. Subsequently, a content analysis was performed on these reports to extract detailed information on the characteristics of each individual incident.

RESULTS: Among the incidents analyzed, the male-to-female ratio was 1:1.6, with an average age of 23.1 ± 5.9 years. Approximately 71.9% took place in Southern China. Unemployment was reported in 15.0% of incidents. Relationship breakup (62.3%) was cited as the leading cause of suicide. Wrist cutting (58.2%) emerged as the predominant suicide method, and home (36.2%) was the most common location for these tragic events. Instant messaging apps were the primary platforms (54.7%) for conveying suicidal thoughts and actions. Additionally, among the 525 incidents examined, 12.0% disclosed having a mental disorder, and 7.6% had a history of prior suicide attempts. Significant variations were observed across age, gender, region, and occupation categories.

CONCLUSION: This study emphasizes the importance of developing suicide prevention programs for internet users. Besides, interventions should be customized to meet the specific needs of various populations.

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