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China rolls out AI system to spot netizens with suicidal thoughts

Updated: Feb 8,2018 10:07 AM     People’s Daily Online

China’s top research center has launched an artificial intelligence system to spot internet users with suicidal thoughts, as well as offering them resources on mental health and psychological counseling.

The system, which is developed by the Institute of Psychology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, can scan and analyze users’ posts and comments on social network platforms such as Weibo. Once a potentially suicidal user is found, the system will use its Weibo Account to send them a message, encouraging them to call local suicide prevention services for help.

According to China Youth Daily, the system has sent 14,435 messages to internet users since July 2017, with an accuracy rate of 92.2 percent.

Suicide prevention is a priority of the Chinese government, as suicide, especially among young people, is becoming a serious issue in Chinese society. According to statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2017, suicide has become the leading cause of death of young Chinese people aged between 15 and 35.

Though people with suicidal thoughts usually do not reveal their secrets to others in real life, cyberspace has offered them a place to express their feelings, without fear their identity will be exposed. Such users may use certain negative expressions and wordings and be less active online. By building a corpus of such posts and comments, the AI system can take a proactive approach to detecting suicidal information online.

Though the system cannot stop individuals from committing suicide, it is still a sign of progress in suicide prevention, helping local authorities to detect possible suicides and provide timely care to them, reported China Youth Daily.

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