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AI trawls social media to help prevent suicide

Telecommunications

A public health campaign is using artificial intelligence to examine the expressed thoughts and behaviors of social media users to help allocate care.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with artificial intelligence (AI) experts Advanced Symbolics Inc. to test the efficacy of suicide prevention through social media monitoring. The Ontario, Canada-based company provides custom AI services to businesses and agencies, and in this project, will be examining the expressed thoughts and behaviors of social media users in a suicide-prevention context.

Running from January to June 2018, the trial will attempt to identify patterns of communication and action that will help the Agency better allocate available funding and mental healthcare services. The reporting will also include evaluation of protective and preventive mechanisms by age and gender. Depending on the results, the Agency may decide to extend the trial for up to five one-year periods.

With the general realization that overall wellbeing involves both physical and mental health, the variety of life improvement projects is enormous. From retirement homes in France that are ecologically sustainable and financially affordable to an app that reminds users of the small, everyday moments of happiness, connected, smart living increasingly requires creative approaches to care. What other challenges could be addressed through the positive power of social media?

Email: erin.massey@canada.ca

Website: www.canada.ca/en/public-health

Contact: erin.massey@canada.ca

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