Suicide Prevention & Trauma on Social Media – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of October 6, 2014)


Sunday night I participated in a very interesting chat on Twitter. It was part of the #SPSM chat, which stands for Suicide Prevention and Social Media. The chat was about an experience I had last summer. To make it overly brief, I ended up in an extended conversation with a suicidal person through an anonymous social media service, and I didn’t know what to do, how to do, or even whether to do anything. At that time, I was curious, and explored social media posts that state suicidal ideation or intent on several platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so forth. Pinterest tended to say, “So CUTE I want to die” (with a few boards collecting sad stories). On Google Plus the results for “want to die” mostly brought up posts about animals in shelters scheduled for euthanasia. There were a few on each of Facebook and Twitter, but they tended to be mostly people using the phrase lightly for purposes of emphasis and drama, and more important, they rarely if ever show up in a normal Twitter stream. You have to go out explicitly hunting for them, as I did for this screenshot.

TRIGGER: Twitter Search: "want to die"

Once you shift over to the anonymous social media services, like Post-Secret, Secret, 6 Billion Secrets, and Whisper, it’s a different story. You can hardly turn around without tripping over a post that expresses some sort of suicidal thoughts or other emotional trauma, or worse, posts fantasizing about hurting other people. When I check Whisper, I’ll often see posts like those at the head of this blogpost, with timestamps of “1 minute ago” “46 seconds ago” and so on. The vulnerable posts can elicit comments ranging from heartfelt support to vicious attacks, which is a bit part of why the creator of Post-Secret shut down that app. My experience came on Whisper. Here are a couple other links showing some Whisper content.

Ashley Beckner: Whisper App Confessions:

13 Eye-Opening Confessions From Men In Abusive Relationships

16 Heartbreaking Anonymous Secrets: The anonymity afforded by Whisper often means we get a harrowing, intimate view of people’s daily struggles.

In last night’s Twitter chat, some of the issues that came up included:
– challenges with the ethical underpinnings of anonymous social media services;
– challenges on anonymous services to find out where the person is, gender, other identifiers for rescuers;
– the idea that calling 911 for help for a person is a breach of community standards (like ‘narcing’ in drug culture);
– geographic challenges in locating assistance when the person is in a different country;
– different cultural standards for appropriate response to suicidal intent;
– legal challenges when the service refuses to identify the anonymous suicidal user except to police in the country of origin for the service (and not in the country of residence for the suicidal person);
– and much more.

Here are some of the tweets from last night’s chat.

Pubmed is LIVE on Social Media – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of July 21, 2014)

Pubmed Social Media Icons
PubMed Update: Social Media Icons Added. NLM Tech Bull. 2014 Jul-Aug;(399):b2.

Have you been straddling the fence deciding whether or not social media is “a thing” in healthcare? Well, maybe this will tip the balance. Pubmed now includes social media sharing icons at the article level, as shown in the image above. This is in addition to NIH’s own active life on social media. Unfortunately, when I was testing it out, every now and then what it shared was not the link to the article, but a link to the search strategy from which I found the articles. Hopefully, they’ll get that fixed, but usually it was good. Here’s what it looks like when sharing something to Twitter.

Pubmed Social Media Sharing Example: Twitter

In honor of this noteworthy change, I thought I’d divert from actual hashtags to seeing what people are sharing from Pubmed this week. If you really want hashtags, take a look at what hashtags they are ADDING to the posts, since Pubmed doesn’t automatically add any.

Crazy Quilt — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of March 10, 2014)

Pic of the day - How Big Is This Sea? (SciMaps Paper Quilt, In Progress 0 - Single Piece

This was one of those weeks where there were SO MANY hashtags supporting incredible conversations that I truly cannot choose just one. Included in this post are:



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a new initiative called “Culture Of Health“, complete with hashtag, video, “six word stories,” and more. The campaign has expanded beyond the original vision for it.


The Family Planning Partnership, associated with the United Nations, has a goal of reaching 120 million more women with information to support reproductive healthcare decisionmaking. They are also using #FP2020 and #AskFP2020 to help spread awareness, information, and open dialog.


The Gates Foundation had an event in support of International Women’s Day which focused on family planning, reproductive equity and resources.


Of course, then there was also the official International Women’s Day activities and hashtag.


I really really wanted to do a whole post on TEDxManhattan, which every year focuses on sustainable food and best nutrition practices.


The EBNJC conversation last week was also completely worth an entire post. This chat was based on a BMJ blogpost by Marie Ennis-O’Connor, “How Online Patient Communities are Changing the Face of Cancer Care.” The chat took this topic and refocused it through the lens of evidence-based nursing.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a monthly “First Friday” Twitter chat, with last week’s topic being how to “flip the clinic,” parallel to the concept of flipped classrooms. The basic concept is the doctor as guide in support of personalized medicine and decisionmaking, with the responsibility for good health and good choices going to the patient. I may have oversimplified, but do please read the chat. They also used the hashtags #FliptheClinic and created midstream #FliptheWaitingRoom.


Flipping the clinic was also a topic of conversation at the weekly patient chat.


AND flipped clinic, patient engagement, and quantified self were also at the MedX hangout and Twitter chat.


The Healthcare Leaders Twitter chat connected patient engagement with health literacy.


Last but not least comes the fabulous conversation in last night’s HCSM Twitter chat about the new nutrition labels, and how they intersect with both health literacy and design thinking in healthcare.

Tough Topics on Twitter — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of February 10, 2014)

Second Life: Red Curtain: View thru the Curtain

Tough topics come up all the time on Twitter, and many of the Twitter chats explicitly present challenging concepts. Sometimes it works better than others. In general, people tend to think that Twitter won’t lend itself to this, because of the forced brevity of tweets, but sometimes it works surprisingly well. Last week, there were two Twitter chats that used Twitter exceptionally well to make a difference in clinical practice and real world interventions on topics as tough as domestic violence and suicide.

The first one was the #bioethx chat on ethical challenges in providing care to victims of domestic violence. For this chat they presented challenging questions derived from real case studies, such as what if the victim protects their abuser, what if known victim suddenly stops showing up for appointments, what if victim can’t afford (or access funds) to pay for medical treatment, what are the ethics of discharging (or not) a victim back into the abusive situation.

What happened was really interesting. Clinicians tended to respond with their sense of what should happen, and then domestic violence survivors jumped in and said, “That isn’t realistic, and this is why.” That conversation was so powerful, complex, and intricate, especially the parts related to informed consent and coercion, I’m not going to try to replicate the conversation in this blogpost, but only share the links and resources that were recommended as a mini-tutorial at the close of the session. You might want to skim the actual transcript for the full conversation.

Continue reading

PubMed Commons: New comment forum on PubMed

go-public-iconFrom the PubMed Commons Blog:

If you are one of the millions of people who visit PubMed today, be on the look-out for something different. On each abstract page, there’s now a section called PubMed Commons. It’s a forum for scientific discussion on publications open to any authors in the world’s largest biomedical literature database.

Several hundred comments have been made during a closed pilot in the last few months. But there are over 23 million articles in PubMed, with thousands more pouring in every day, from Tuesday to Saturday. So the chance of coming across an article with comments is still very low.

We’ll show you some interesting ones shortly, though – and you can learn how to look for articles with comments and set up alerts in one of last week’s blog posts. Or you can check out the stream of selected new comments – as well as articles that are trending in PubMed – at the PubMed Commons home page.

If you happen onto an article that has comments, the first sign will be in your search results. There will be a little icon letting you know an article has comments, and how many there are – like this:

Comment icon with number 7

Anyone can read the comments. Members may also have rated their helpfulness, which looks like this on the comment:

8 out of 8 found this helpful

Read more about PubMed Commons here.

Mind the Science Gap ends

MTSG_H8I’m sad to report that Mind the Science Gap, a science communication training blog from the University of Michigan School of Public Health,  has ended.

In January 2012, Mind The Science Gap was launched as a unique approach to helping public health graduate students at the University of Michigan hone their science communication skills.  Since then, we’ve seen nearly 400 posts, over 4000 comments, half a million page views, and some fantastic writing on science and public health.  And most importantly, the course has provided nearly 40 early career public health professionals with a unique set of communication skills.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to end at some time, and Mind The Science Gap is no exception.  The course started as an experiment in how social media can be used to develop and enhance science communication skills.  In this it was highly successful.  But it was also extremely time consuming, dependent on feedback from readers and other science communicators, and reliant on the participants being able to navigate complex and sometimes controversial topics from the get-go.  And as my time has become increasingly taken up with my academic responsibilities as department chair and director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, I sadly find myself having less time than necessary to devote to the course and its students.

On top of this, it has become increasingly difficult to encourage readers and other science writers and communicators to provide critical feedback to the course participants.

Read more on their website, & read some of the almost 400 posts that you may have missed.

New issue of Health Communication Science Digest

From the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):

The November issue of Health Communication Science Digest (HCSD or Digest) is now available at

This month in the Digest there are several papers reporting new strategies and approaches for public health communication messaging (Appel & Mara; Chung & Slater; Gollust et al.; McKay-Nesbitt et al.; Miller-Day & Hecht; O’Malley & Latimer-Cheung) while others examine audience segmentation and targeting (Gerend et al; Greene; Krieger et al). Aspects of both traditional (Kuiper et al; Nabi & Thomas; Tucker et al) and new media (Head et al; Knobloch-Westerwich et al; Little et al; Phua; Rutsaert et al) in public health communication are reported in several studies. Health literacy considerations are highlighted in several studies (Bailey et al; Lincoln et al; Mackert et al; Rodríguez et al; Wickline & Sellnow).

“Access to HIV care: Real results” & live stream of White House observation of World AIDS Day

From the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA):

On December 1, 2013, the Health Resources and Services Administration celebrated World AIDS Day to show our support and commitment to those who are living with the disease and to remember those who have died from HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world.

Learn how five key activities are making a big difference in access to HIV care and treatment – click the infographic below to see it full size.


White House Observation of World AIDS Day live stream
December 2, 1 to 3 pm ET