Suicide is the second most common cause of death in people between the ages of 10 and 19 in Canada. Despite the country’s preventative efforts, the prevalence of suicide continues to grow year over year. Existing efforts include ramped up suicide research funding, the addition of new mental wellness educational programs, and human-assisted monitoring of national suicide statistics. Though these efforts provide an important foundation for preventing suicide in Canada, it’s clear additional tactics are necessary to save more lives. This is where the predictive and scalable capabilities of AI could offer assistance.
Canadian officials are in talks with Ottowa-based company, Advanced Symbolics Inc., to develop a program that will leverage the power of social media to forecast geographic spikes in suicidal behavior. According to reports, the terms of the agreement will include a three-month pilot program. During the pilot, researchers will analyze 160,000 social media accounts to identify trends that could indicate a pending a rise in suicide-related deaths in communities across Canada. When the AI predicts a potential rise in suicides in a given area, officials will cue government health programs to take action. The Canadian government is set to finalize the contract to start the pilot next month. After the three-month test, officials will determine if future work will be necessary.
A rep from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said, “To help prevent suicide, develop effective prevention programs and recognize ways to intervene earlier, we must first understand the various patterns and characteristics of suicide-related behaviours. PHAC is exploring ways to pilot a new approach to assist in identifying patterns, based on online data, associated with users who discuss suicide-related behaviours.”
A promising solution
Advanced Symbolics Inc. is a company…
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