Bored to death: Artificial Intelligence research reveals the role of boredom in suicide behavior

Shir Lissak, Yaakov Ophir, Refael Tikochinski, Anat Brunstein Klomek, Itay Sisso, Eyal Fruchter, Roi Reichart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributed significantly to suicide assessment, however, our theoretical understanding of this complex behavior is still limited. Objective: This study aimed to harness AI methodologies to uncover hidden risk factors that trigger or aggravate suicide behaviors. Methods: The primary dataset included 228,052 Facebook postings by 1,006 users who completed the gold-standard Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. This dataset was analyzed using a bottom-up research pipeline without a-priory hypotheses and its findings were validated using a top-down analysis of a new dataset. This secondary dataset included responses by 1,062 participants to the same suicide scale as well as to well-validated scales measuring depression and boredom. Results: An almost fully automated, AI-guided research pipeline resulted in four Facebook topics that predicted the risk of suicide, of which the strongest predictor was boredom. A comprehensive literature review using APA PsycInfo revealed that boredom is rarely perceived as a unique risk factor of suicide. A complementing top-down path analysis of the secondary dataset uncovered an indirect relationship between boredom and suicide, which was mediated by depression. An equivalent mediated relationship was observed in the primary Facebook dataset as well. However, here, a direct relationship between boredom and suicide risk was also observed. Conclusion: Integrating AI methods allowed the discovery of an under-researched risk factor of suicide. The study signals boredom as a maladaptive ‘ingredient’ that might trigger suicide behaviors, regardless of depression. Further studies are recommended to direct clinicians’ attention to this burdening, and sometimes existential experience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1328122
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume15
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • boredom
  • deep learning
  • large language models
  • natural language processing
  • risk factors discovery
  • social media
  • suicide prevention
  • suicide research

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