Facebook Partners With Suicide Prevention Group To Identify Warning Signs

The social network will help SAVE analyze posts from individuals who have committed suicide to try to find out how people approach their decision.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on January 30, 2013.

Facebook has partnered with suicide prevention group SAVE for a project that will examine the online behavior of those who take their own lives in the days leading up to their deaths. Sadly, the project was initiated after the suicide of prominent Internet activist Aaron Swartz, but the hope is that by analyzing the Facebook behavior of others who have committed suicide will help prevent future suicides.

Data will be gathered from a year’s worth of Facebook posts from twenty people in Minnesota who recently committed suicide. The data will be analyzed for different patterns that could suggest a person is considering suicide, such as the type of language used and the intervals between posts.

Facebook Partners With Suicide Prevention Group To Identify Warning Signs

These may reveal how people approach their decision to commit suicide and could help family and friends spot warning signs in the future. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE, told Bloomberg that certain behaviors signal that people could be at risk:

This includes talking and writing about suicide in general, seeking advice on ways to die, expressing feelings about how they feel trapped or that they consider themselves a burden to others.


*header image credit: MaverPix