Workshop Proceedings of the 16th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media
This study quantifies changes in language to evaluate the social and psychological effect of participation in a controversial pro-choice suicide forum. A linguistic frequency approach shows that language becomes increasingly of a style that has been associated with better mental health with increasing participation on the forum, up to around the 100th post made by any participant, at which point language style does not in general continue to change significantly. A subsequent keyword analysis finds significant differences in discourse content between less established and more established participants, with the former focused on suicide method and time ref-erences, and the latter using more abstract terms predominantly addressed towards other participants. In addition, it is shown that the forum exhibits established characteristics of a virtual community. It is concluded that the forum may in general help support better mental health of participants, and that this may be related to its accommodation of concerns that are currently not tolerated in the discourse of wider society. There is evidence to suggest that the greater social threat currently may be to ban the forum.