Crisis text line, suicide prevention through artificial intelligence

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Crisis text line, suicide prevention through artificial intelligence

Crisis Text Line

Suicide prevention hotline which, in addition to offering accompaniment, emotional support and home interventions to thousands of people going through difficult situations, has an algorithm that allows the service’s volunteers to identify which people are at high risk of suicide and therefore need more urgent intervention.

The service works in such a way that the person in crisis sends a message saying “HOME” to the number 741741, and a specialised volunteer responds quickly and in real time. The service goes out of its way to help people in times of distress or crisis by listening to them, reassuring them, and offering suggestions for overcoming their difficulties.

As a service that receives thousands of requests, deciding who to help first in times of floods of messages can be a life-or-death decision. That’s why Crisis Text Line uses an algorithm to identify people at high risk of suicide and to be able to intervene as quickly as possible in these cases.

Using machine learning, the artificial intelligence algorithm analyses the words and emojis that may indicate that a person is at high risk of suicidal ideation or self-harm. The system developed is based on the analysis of 30 million messages that the service has exchanged with users in recent years, and is thus able to position as an emergency those conversations with high-risk patterns that need to be attended to more urgently. As a result, 94% of people at serious and imminent risk of suicide receive an intervention in less than 5 minutes.

In addition, the data collected provides the service with very relevant information about the mental health of the clients. For example, it has concluded that Wednesday is the most anxiety provoking day of the week, and that self-harm crises occur mainly in the early hours of the morning.

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