Suicide Prevention App Looks For Troubling Tweets

GLEN OAKS, NY – A new suicide prevention app that alerts you when someone you follow on twitter is struggling to cope may be a life saver, says a New York psychiatrist.  Each year, more than 40,000 Americans die from suicide.

“I’m so excited about this application because I think this was really a genius thing that someone invented to help us look and target those who are battling with depression and afraid to come out and talk about it in person,” said Scott Krakower, DO, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital.  “We’re really living in a digital world.”
 
With more people sharing their life online – and often expressing their innermost thoughts in a tweet – the app may prevent those in despair, especially younger people, from doing something drastic, said Dr. Krakower.
 
Samaritans Radar is a  free app that sends an alert to your email address when tweets such as "help me," "tired of being alone," "hate myself" and "need someone to talk to" appear in friend’s twitter feed. 
 
It flags such worrisome tweets, which may go overlooked in a user’s steady stream of tweets, and emails with advice on how to provide support. 
 
A 2013 study by computer scientists at Brigham Young University examined the ratio of suicidal tweets occurring in each state in the US against the actual suicide rate and discovered a correlation. The study, published in the journal Crisis, found that social platforms could serve as early warnings for suicides. 
 
“Samaritans Radar is a really good start for other applications,” said Dr. Krakow, “Maybe an app to look at the photos being posted on Instagram. We’re not only living in a world where we’re constantly texting, we’re also visual.”

 

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