Key words and phrases alert Twitter followers to suicidal thougths
A leading charity has developed an app that notifies Twitter users if people are suicidal.
Samaritans Radar is a free web application that monitors followers’ tweets, creating an alert if it spots anyone who may be struggling to cope.
Using algorithms to identify key words, the app gives users a second chance to see potentially worrying tweets, which might have otherwise been missed.
Words and phrases include "tired of being alone", "hate myself", "depressed", "help me" and "need someone to talk to."
Users who have signed up for the scheme will receive an email alert if someone they know tweets these statements.
The app then asks whether the tweets are cause for concern.
By not addressing this issue we run the risk of shutting these discussions down and driving them underground - Joe Ferns
Joe Ferns, executive director of policy, research and development at Samaritans, said people struggling to cope often go online looking for support.
The charity, he said, wanted to develop more technology to 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,” said Ferns.
“Instead we need to use tools such as Samaritans Radar to encourage people to look out for one another online, helping them to reach out and offer support.”
The app’s key audience is the ‘Millennials’ group – otherwise known as Generation Y – which typically includes 18-35 year olds.
They are classed as digital natives – growing up using new technology and the first generation to grow up with computers in their home.
Patricia Cartes, Twitter's global head of trust and safety outreach, said: "Twitter actively forges partnerships with organisations in the field of online safety and digital citizenship, and Samaritans has a longstanding reputation for supporting people in times of need. It is fantastic to see them extending this expertise and experimenting with new ways of supporting people in the digital space."