Communications in Computer and Information Science, Vol. 542, Springer, 2015
In online social networks, high level features of user behavior such as character traits can be predicted with data from user profiles and their connections. Recent publications use data from online social networks to detect people with depression propensity and diagnosis. In this study, we investigate the capabilities of previously published methods and metrics applied to the Russian online social network VKontakte. We gathered user profile data from most popular communities about suicide and depression on VK.com and performed comparative analysis between them and randomly sampled users. We have used not only standard user attributes like age, gender, or number of friends but also structural properties of their egocentric networks, with results similar to the study of suicide propensity in the Japanese social network Mixi.com. Our goal is to test the approach and models in this new setting and propose enhancements to the research design and analysis. We investigate the resulting classifiers to identify profile features that can indicate depression propensity of the users in order to provide tools for early depression detection. Finally, we discuss further work that might improve our analysis and transfer the results to practical applications.