Despite significant potential for providing insight to private perceptions and behaviors, search engine data has yet to be utilized as a means of gauging the U.S. public's interest and understanding of mental health in the context of gun violence and politics. An analysis of Google Trends revealed that Mental health searches increased in volume starting in the beginning of the current decade. Notably, both “mental health” and “gun(s)” were searched with greater frequency the week after the mass shooting events occurred. Related searches after the event also observed a significant increase in interest in mental health and gun regulation, legal reform, mass shootings, and gun(s). Results suggest that the American public's perception of mental illness increasingly incorporates associations with themes of violence and politics, which becomes more apparent surrounding mass shooting events. Future studies are needed to determine implications for stigmatization of vulnerable groups, and possible relations to media coverage.
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