AI set to help lower suicide rates
Facebook has received a lot of negative attention recently due to people filming their own suicides through its live stream feature. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is distraught after discovering that his service, which was designed to connect people, is being used for such dark purposes.
Millennials have become the primary age group for adopting this trend and have taken to live streaming their deaths after revealing the pain and struggles they have been internally suffering from. This issue is becoming extremely prevalent with suicide rates in young people reaching an all time high in 2014 and continuing to rise.
Facebook have now added a suicide-prevention feature to identify posts and comments that display suicidal tendencies. This will be reviewed by Facebook’s community team and if deemed necessary, the user will be sent suicide-prevention resources with options to contact a helpline or get help from a friend, especially if someone begins live broadcasting. Additionally, suicide-prevention organisations are now being made readily available on Messenger, so that they are easily contactable for anyone who may be experiencing suicidal or harmful thoughts.
Though the introduction of this AI technology has sparked public controversy, with many viewing the feature as an invasion of privacy. Some even argue that it could cause individuals to feel even more depressed or isolated as their social media attempts to involve itself in their personal lives or issues. Others however, support the introduction of Facebook’s suicide-prevention feature and argue, ‘if it saves just one life, it’s worth it’.
Many other organisations are now also developing suicide prevention platforms, such as research hospitals and the US department of Veterans Affairs. They recognise that preventing harm is far more effective than waiting for something to happen before taking action.
Moreover, AI has recently been found to be more accurate than doctors at identifying suicide-prone individuals (85% accurate). This is due to its advanced search system. Meanwhile doctors often incorrectly diagnose suicidal patients with depression or drug abuse rather than investigating the matter further. Author of the Harry Potter novels JK Rowling revealed that before fame, she felt suicidal after leaving an abusive relationship and becoming a single mother. Rowling has spoken out against the disgraceful attitude she felt amongst many doctors in their handling of this sensitive matter. With medical professionals unequipped to identify key signifiers amongst those who may be considering suicide, AI seems to have provided the solution in the form of this suicide-prevention feature, which could potentially save many lives.
We at Mediareach, see the potential and value that young people have to offer and so, support Facebook’s new innovative feature wholeheartedly.