Absolutist Words From Search Volume Data Predict State-Level Suicide Rates in the United States

Jais Adam-Troian*, Thomas Arciszewski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Suicide continues to be a major public health issue, especially in the United States. It is a well-established fact that depression and suicidal ideation are risk factors for suicide. Drawing on recent research that shows that absolutist words (e.g., “completely,” “totally”) constitute linguistic markers of suicidal ideation, we created an online index of absolutist thinking (ATI) using search query data (i.e., Google Trends time series). Mixed-model analyses of age-adjusted suicide rates in the United States from 2004 to 2017 revealed that ATI is linked with suicides, β = 0.22, 95% CI = [0.12, 0.31], p <.001, and predicts suicides within 1 year, β = 0.16, 95% CI = [0.05, 0.28], p =.006, independently of state characteristics and historical trends. It is the first time that a collective measure of absolutist thinking is used to predict real-world suicide outcomes. Therefore, the present study paves the way for novel research avenues in clinical psychological research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-793
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • absolutist thinking
  • open data
  • prediction
  • search query
  • suicide
  • U.S. states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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