Day and time linked to risk of someone taking their life

Researchers reviewed almost seven years of data from a Reddit forum encompassing 90,518 posts between December 2008 and August 2015

Dave Yasvinski 4 minute read May 25, 2021
Reddit suicide study

The study found people were especially vulnerably in the early morning hours of Monday. Getty

If you are struggling with mental health or thoughts about suicide, the Canada Suicide Prevention Service is available at 1-833-456-4566 or 45645 by text.

Monday is the most daunting day for people struggling with mental health issues, according to a new study that found posts to Reddit’s suicide support forum peak during the early hours of the work week.

The research, which appears in BMC Psychiatry, suggests there is variation in the behaviour of vulnerable people throughout the day and week that may be addressed through targeted support. “Monday has often been identified as the day of the week which has the highest risk of someone taking their own life,” said Rina Dutta, the primary investigator of the study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and King’s College London.

“From the data that we’ve studied, we can see a clear trend over weekly cycles that closely follows the suicide timing patterns reported in some earlier studies.”

Researchers reviewed almost seven years of data from Reddit’s SucideWatch forum — a trove encompassing 90,518 posts between December 2008 and August 2015 — and found activity to be at its highest level on Monday mornings between 02:00 and 05:00. As the week wore on, however, posts to the forum billed as “peer support for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts” gradually tapered off. The pattern was distinct from that observed in other Reddit forums, such as AskReddit, another popular destination where activity increases every day as the afternoon approaches.

The early hours of the posts to the forum suggests sufferers may be struggling with sleep — a risk factor for self-destructive thoughts and behaviour that can potentially be modified. “Extensive use of social media has been associated with disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem,” she said. “Reducing the use of social media during the night hours might be an effective means of providing targeted psychological interventions in some individuals.”

Suicide is the ninth most common cause of death in Canada, with more than 10 Canadians taking their lives each day and leaving seven to 10 other people significantly affected by the loss. Of the approximately 4,000 people who take their lives in the country annually, more than 90 per cent were living with a mental health issue or illness prior to death. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among adults in their 20s, with males accounting for 75 per cent of deaths.

The anxiety and stress produced by a year lost to the pandemic was expected to make these number worse, but early data shows the rate of suicide declined across much of the country. However, with a drastic increase in calls made to suicide hotlines, experts warn the true toll of the pandemic may not be felt for years to come.


With many of the groups most vulnerable to suicide frequenting online forums, Dutta said there is an opportunity to provide greater support now to avoid future tragedies. “Given that we have a clear indication as to when at risk people are posting to this forum, it is challenging but certainly not implausible to envisage providing higher levels of moderation on Reddit during times of increased posting about suicidality.

“If developed in the right way, we might have the capacity to target otherwise unreachable populations to deliver suicide prevention messaging and interventions where and when they are needed most.”

Dave Yasvinski is a writer with

If you are struggling with mental health or thoughts about suicide, there is help. Here is a list of resources.

Other resources include:
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. Text CONNECT to 686868 or visit
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366
Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310. Online chat:
Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 
For Quebec residents: 1-866-APPELLE