AAAI Publications, Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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A Social Media Based Examination of the Effects of Counseling Recommendations after Student Deaths on College Campuses
Koustuv Saha, Ingmar Weber, Munmun De Choudhury

Last modified: 2018-06-15


Student deaths on college campuses, whether brought about by a suicide or an uncontrollable incident, have serious repercussions for the mental wellbeing of students. Consequently, many campus administrators implement post-crisis intervention measures to promote student-centric mental health support. Information about these measures, which we refer to as "counseling recommendations", are often shared via electronic channels, including social media. However, the current ability to assess the effects of these recommendations on post-crisis psychological states is limited. We propose a causal analysis framework to examine the effects of these counseling recommendations after student deaths. We leverage a dataset from 174 Reddit campus communities and ~400M posts of ~350K users. Then we employ statistical modeling and natural language analysis to quantify the psychosocial shifts in behavioral, cognitive, and affective expression of grief in individuals who are "exposed" to (comment on) the counseling recommendations, compared to that in a matched control cohort. Drawing on crisis and psychology research, we find that the exposed individuals show greater grief, psycholinguistic, and social expressiveness, providing evidence of a healing response to crisis and thereby positive psychological effects of the counseling recommendations. We discuss the implications of our work in supporting post-crisis rehabilitation and intervention efforts on college campuses.


social media; student death; counseling recommendation; reddit; intervention; causal inference; campus; grief; crisis; mental health; circumplex model; affect; grief lexicon; psychosocial changes

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