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New Media Newsletter


January Newsletter

The Durkheim Project:  Monitoring Social Media to Prevent Suicide

Suicide in the United States, and particularly within the military community, is a concern. It’s a leading cause of death in the United States, and last year, more military personnel died of suicide than they did in combat. Today, there are many organizations dedicated to preventing suicide, and there’s one organization exploring how social media monitoring might help.  

FacebookThe Durkheim Project, a Boston-based organization funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), uses social media posts and predictive analysis technology to assess an individual’s risk of attempting suicide. Active military personnel and veterans elect to share information from their social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and text messages. The Durkheim Project algorithm evaluates keywords in these messages and determines a predicted risk level – flagging individuals at high risk for suicide or mental illness.

At this point, Durkheim Project is in the data collection phase. The organization is encouraging participants to opt in and is observing the submitted social media posts and text messages to optimize and improve the system. The next phase is intervention, in which a clinician, trusted family member, or friend can be alerted about an individual’s high-risk status.

Researchers for Durkheim Project hope that, in addition to providing real-time support for individuals in need, the information and data collected can help inform the medical community about the risks and indicative language of suicide.

To learn more about the project, read the complete article on Mashable.



TIPS OF THE MONTH

Apart from the groundbreaking research that Durkheim Project is conducting on suicide prevention, there is a wealth of resources available to support individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts, their families, and the communities around them. If you or a loved one is thinking about suicide, remember there is help.

In this month’s tips, we’ve provided a few ideas on how your organization can help support suicide prevention online.

  1. Promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) on your website.  Download the Lifeline logo in English or Spanish and post it on your site and direct users to the Lifeline website for online support and resources.

  2. Explore the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) online trainings.  SPRC has a series of free online courses to train service providers, educators and community-based organizations on developing effective suicide prevention programs and policies.

  3. Support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Interactive Screening Program.  ASPF has developed a web-based program that allows people to anonymously connect people at risk for suicide to a counselor who can provide personalized support.



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