Modeling stress with social media around incidents of gun violence on college campuses

Koustuv Saha, Munmun De Choudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress constitutes a persistent wellbeing challenge to college students, impacting their personal, social, and academic life. However, violent events on campuses may aggravate student stress, due to the induced fear and trauma. In this paper, leveraging social media as a passive sensor of stress, we propose novel computational techniques to quantify and examine stress responses after gun violence on college campuses. We first present a machine learning classifier for inferring stress expression in Reddit posts, which achieves an accuracy of 82%. Next, focusing on 12 incidents of campus gun violence in the past five years, and social media data gathered from college Reddit communities, our methods reveal amplified stress levels following the violent incidents, which deviate from usual stress patterns on the campuses. Further, distinctive temporal and linguistic changes characterize the campus populations, such as reduced cognition, higher self pre-occupation and death-related conversations. We discuss the implications of our work in improving mental wellbeing and rehabilitation efforts around crisis events in college student populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Campus mental health
  • College students
  • Crisis
  • Gun violence
  • Mental health
  • Reddit
  • Social media
  • Stress
  • Wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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