According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people lose their lives to suicide each year.
Facebook, the AI Buddy Project, Bark.us, and most recently a joint effort by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have all made technologies with the potential to decrease the number of suicide-related deaths.
Although an AI will never replace the emotional connection and support humans provide in a time of crisis, the innovations we’ve seen this past year could help health care providers, friends, and family members detect suicidal tendencies in their patients and loved ones before it’s too late.
Researchers examined 34 young adults who were evenly split between participants with known suicidal tendencies and a control group.
They guided each subject through a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) test where they were presented with three lists of 10 words.
The word groups included suicide-related words like “death” and “distressed,” potentially positive effects like “carefree” and “kindness,” and potentially negative effects like “boredom” and “evil.”