Estimating Suicide Occurrence Statistics Using Google Trends

EPJ Data Science, Vol. 5(32), DOI 10.1140/epjds/s13688-016-0094-0, 2016

12 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2017

See all articles by Ladislav Kristoufek

Ladislav Kristoufek

Charles University

Helen Susannah Moat

University College London - Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering; Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies

Tobias Preis

Data Science Lab, Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School; The Alan Turing Institute

Date Written: November 8, 2016

Abstract

Data on the number of people who have committed suicide tends to be reported with a substantial time lag of around two years. We examine whether online activity measured by Google searches can help us improve estimates of the number of suicide occurrences in England before official figures are released. Specifically, we analyse how data on the number of Google searches for the terms ‘depression’ and ‘suicide’ relate to the number of suicides between 2004 and 2013. We find that estimates drawing on Google data are significantly better than estimates using previous suicide data alone. We show that a greater number of searches for the term ‘depression’ is related to fewer suicides, whereas a greater number of searches for the term ‘suicide’ is related to more suicides. Data on suicide related search behaviour can be used to improve current estimates of the number of suicide occurrences.

Keywords: Nowcasting, Search Data, Google Trends, Official Statistics

JEL Classification: C53, C00, C55

Suggested Citation

Kristoufek, Ladislav and Moat, Helen Susannah and Preis, Tobias, Estimating Suicide Occurrence Statistics Using Google Trends (November 8, 2016). EPJ Data Science, Vol. 5(32), DOI 10.1140/epjds/s13688-016-0094-0, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2913835

Ladislav Kristoufek

Charles University ( email )

Celetná 13
Praha 1, 116 36
Czech Republic

Helen Susannah Moat

University College London - Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.suzymoat.co.uk

Boston University - Center for Polymer Studies ( email )

590 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Tobias Preis (Contact Author)

Data Science Lab, Behavioural Science, Warwick Business School ( email )

University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.tobiaspreis.com

The Alan Turing Institute ( email )

British Library, 96 Euston Road
London, NW12DB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.turing.ac.uk

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