Samaritans Radar is a web app by the U.K. charity Samaritans which aims to help detect if friends are depressed by checking their tweets.
Samaritans Radar uses an algorithm to check for keywords related to severe depression and suicidal thoughts such as ‘want to die’, ‘kill myself’, and ‘end it all’.
If the app thinks that one of your friends is suicidal, it will send you an e-mail with a link to the tweet and guidelines for helping the person.
I cannot attest the accuracy of this app or the efficacy of its guidelines, but I do admire Samaritans’ effort to address the suicide situation. It is widespread, very serious, and depressed people often feel as if they can’t talk to their friends about it because they might avoid them.
Many people are insensitive towards depressed people, and this exacerbates the problem severely. Whether or not you use this app, please bear in mind that suicides often come as a surprise, and a person may look happy when they are on the verge of committing suicide. Three years ago, I lost my friend to suicide. I had absolutely no clue that would happen.
It was a shock. He did very well academically, he got a job he liked. He and his girlfriend looked quite happy together.
There is another important fact to keep in mind: Things can change suddenly. Traumatic events can damage one’s mental health suddenly, resulting in suicide shortly after.
‘Joe Ferns, executive director of policy, research and development at Samaritans, said: “We know that people struggling to cope often go online looking for support, but there is still so much we need to learn about why this happens and how we can make the online environment safer for vulnerable people.
By not addressing this issue we run the risk of shutting these discussions down and driving them underground.’
Source: The Inquirer.