Appropriate Targets for Search Advertising as Part of Online Gatekeeping for Suicide Prevention

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Abstract

Background: Gatekeeper training is an effective suicide prevention strategy. However, the appropriate targets of online gatekeeping have not yet been clarified. Aim: We examined the association between the outcomes of online gatekeeping using the Internet and the characteristics of consultation service users. Method: An advertisement to encourage the use of e-mail-based psychological consultation services among viewers was placed on web pages that showed the results of searches using suicide-related keywords. All e-mails received between October 2014 and December 2015 were replied to as part of gatekeeping, and the obtained data (responses to an online questionnaire and the content of the received e-mails) were analyzed. Results: A total of 154 consultation service users were analyzed, 35.7% of whom were male. The median age range was 20–29 years. Online gatekeeping was significantly more likely to be successful when such users faced financial/daily life or workplace problems, or revealed their names (including online names). By contrast, the activity was more likely to be unsuccessful when it was impossible to assess the problems faced by consultation service users. Conclusion: It may be possible to increase the success rate of online gatekeeping by targeting individuals facing financial/daily life or workplace problems with marked tendencies for self-disclosure.

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