Suicide can be a heavy topic.
According to the World Health Organization, roughly 800,000 people die from suicide every year across the globe. That’s roughly one person every minute.
And with the current state of affairs across the world, and the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that there has been an increase in depression rates among various communities.
But one researcher is raising awareness on the importance of mental health and scientific research.
Sandersan (Sandy) Onie is researching ways Google Adwords can help people in need of mental health support.
The researcher, who currently works at the Black Dog Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, emphasized the importance of mental health awareness in order to help improve people’s lives.
But his passion for the topic didn’t begin on a whim. Onie has had personal experience with mental health issues.
During his childhood, his father had suffered from anxiety attacks.
“As I grew up, I saw the crippling effects of panic attacks on a great man, which would eventually lead to the breakdown of my family unit,” Onie said to Forbes. “I too developed depression in junior high school and at the time, I had never even heard of ‘depression’.”
Eventually, Onie was able to find support among his community and friends. But he knows not everyone is as fortunate to be able to receive that support.
For countries like Indonesia with no existing suicide prevention hotlines, situations like the current coronavirus pandemic can increase the rates of depression and suicide among young people.
That’s why Onie’s ongoing efforts to boost mental health research in Indonesia is crucial to the various communities in the country.
And true to his word, Onie is currently working on a project that uses Google Ads to help redirect individuals searching suicide-related terms on Google.
Through Google Grants for Non-Profit, Onie and his colleagues were able to create an intervention to reach people in crisis.
The project in based on digital interventions, with a specific focus on initiatives that are low in cost and are able to reach a wide range of communities.
“Studies have shown repeatedly that an increase of suicide related search terms correspond to suicide rate, therefore, it is conceivable that people would search up suicide related terms on Google” he said.
Although the search terms may differ in language, the principle of using Google Ads could help tackle challenges, such as not having a sustainable nationwide suicide hotline.
“The pandemic has slowed the pace of research due to logistical constraints, but further emphasizes the importance of the work since people are no longer able to meet face-to-face.” he said.
Kudos to Onie and his team for their efforts.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, here are some numbers for mental hotlines around Southeast Asia.
Remember, you are not alone.
Cover image sourced from @drsandyonie.