Facebook can now predict suicide risks

Facebook can now predict suicide risks

For those who have been contemplating suicide, their social media might now give them away. Patterns and Predictions, a data mining company, is teaming up with Facebook on a project that seeks to predict increased suicide risk on the words and phrases they use on social media. An initiative called the Durkheim Project will use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to identify common words and phrases among those who might be contemplating suicide.


Facebook actually wonders about people’s feelings that is why that little white box where you update your status, queries directly, “What’s on your mind?” In this little box Facebook has the ability to collect data on all Facebook users — their actions, feelings, reactions, wishes, hopes, desires and dreams.

The Experiment

The experiment is named for Emile Durkheim, a sociologist who conducted a broad survey and analysis of suicide statistics in 1897. In his book, Suicide, Durkheim classified suicide victims into distinct types and found correlations between the lives they led and the likelihood they had to kill themselves.


The current targets are only veterans, who have been identified to have disproportionately high suicide rates. The Durkheim Project installs an app on computers, Android and iOS devices; keeping track of what users post these apps will upload them to a medical database.

The collected data in this project will be analyzed by “artificial intelligence systems” predictive applications, the analyzed data will then used to monitor content and behavior in real time for patterns that might lead to harmful self behaviour.

The App

The Durkheim Project app monitors content from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in addition to storing information from a user’s mobile device. A database at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University will keep track of users’ locations and text messages, and will not share any information with third parties. Additionally, the system will be guarded by a firewall to ward off would-be hackers.

“The study we’ve begun with our research partners will build a rich knowledge base that eventually could enable timely interventions by mental health professionals,” said Chris Poulin, principal investigator on the project, in a statement. “Facebook’s capability for outreach is unparalleled.”


TechNewsDaily, ArsTechnica, Psychology Today

By | 2013-11-07T14:47:38+00:00 August 15th, 2013|News, Social Media|0 Comments

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