Celebrity suicide on Twitter: Activity, content and network analysis related to the death of Swedish DJ Tim Bergling alias Avicii
Publication date: Available online 10 November 2018
Source: Journal of Affective Disorders
Author(s): Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, Benedikt Till, David Garcia
Media recommendations for suicide reporting are recommended to prevent imitative suicide but little is known about social media reactions to different revelations about celebrity suicide.
Using the Twitter Application Programming Interface (API), we recorded public tweets mentioning Avicii from the day when his death was reported (N= 2,865,292). We compared that data with a dataset of random tweets. Furthermore, we recorded tweets including suicide in 124 languages before Avicii‘s death (N= 5,939,107). We processed English tweets mentioning Avicii with the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to quantify the frequency of affects and related linguistic signals. We also processed the text of tweets to detect tweets mentioning the suicide method, and we retrieved the list of followers of users who tweeted about the method. We constructed reply networks from the dataset, analyzing three networks corresponding to the major news events about Avicii‘s death.
Avicii's suicide sparked immediate strong interest with both positive (χ²=781.06, p<10^-6) and negative emotional expressions (χ²=1518.5, p<10^-6) in comparison to baseline levels. Subsequent revelations were associated with smaller peaks with mainly negative emotional content after Avicii's death was revealed as a suicide (χ²=33.2, p<10^-6) and after news about the suicide method (χ²=274.93, p<10^-6). Tweeting about the suicide method was infrequent, but twitter users who covered the method had more followers that users who did not (D=0.1675, p<10^-6; t=19.87, p<10^-6), and a noteworthy number of users had considerable exposure to the suicide method.
This was a descriptive analysis.
Twitter users showed strong interest in news about Avicii's death and Avicii's suicide, but less so in the suicide method, and showed distinct tweeting behaviours based on the different revelations.