Researchers presented an algorithm that timely detects suicidal tendencies in adolescents

Mental health is one of the great issues of today. The pandemic context had such a deep impact on society that in many cases the emotional impact that people had on this period was evident.

In the case of adolescents, the situation is punctually critical. In much of the world, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in adolescents. Particularly in Spain, is the main cause. Therefore, an early detection of possible suicidal tendencies in this age range can be extremely useful and with the help of an AI system, it could be easier.

AI to prevent suicides in adolescents

Through a joint work, researchers from Brigham Young University, Johns Hopkins and Harvard, developed an algorithm that can predict suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents, with an accuracy of 91%.

“It is critical that we have a better understanding of the risk factors, and the protective factors, associated with this heartbreaking problem.”commented one of the study’s co-authors, Michael Barnes, in conversation with BYU.

The team worked with data from 179,384 American middle and high school students. The data sample compiles responses from more than 300 questions, which together collect a total of 1.2 billion data points processed.

To work with this information, they implemented a machine learning model capable of predicting which adolescents began to have suicidal thoughts and behaviors, based on the data provided.

The conclusions showed that women tend to experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors more frequently, with a 17.7% probability, compared to 10.8% of men. Another important conclusion is that households without a father present increased the probability of assuming suicidal tendencies by 72% compared to young people with a father and mother present.

The risk factors detected by the algorithm are online threats, face-to-face bullying at school, or direct or indirect exposure to violence in the home.

“This analysis finds the most important root causes of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents and creates risk profiles that give us a clearer picture of adolescents who are at risk.”Carl Hanson, another study co-author, told BYU. “If you want to understand what you can do about it, these profiles are a good place to start”, the academic pointed out.

Clearly, the solution to such a critical problem will not come in a virtual format. However, although health and social factors prevail in these situations, an extra amount of support could save lives.

Details of this research are available in an article published by Plos One.

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Lenny Li

I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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