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Samaritans Launches Twitter App To Help Prevent Suicides

Samaritans Making Good Use Of Social Media

Suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, has announced the launch of a new app, developed with Twitter, called Radar. The aim of this app is to notify users if one of their Twitter followers is displaying signs that they may be depressed and need help. This app is Samaritan's first step towards a digital approach when offering its support to people who need it and actively preventing suicides.

social media samaritan
Source: thedirectorypage.com

Samaritans Radar is aimed at millennials who were the first generation to grow up with computers and the first to have access to social media. They are the ones that spend the most time on social media, an average of three hours a day, and they are the ones who share a lot about themselves online. And so it makes sense that a charity such as Samaritan would turn to social media to reach out to young people who are more likely to share their thoughts online than anywhere else.

The app works with an algorithm that identifies key words or sentences that may indicate some form of distress. These include 'hate myself', 'depressed' or 'tired of being alone'. The algorithm does not yet recognize jokes or sarcasm and leaves it up to the user to decide if that tweet belongs to someone seeking out help or just someone joking. Because the app also includes feedback, the algorithm could only improve in the next few months, and will probably be more effective in identifying tweets.

social media samaritan
Source: huffpost.com
All you need to do is sign up for the app, and then the app will send you an email if it thinks one of your friends has tweeted something picked up from the algorithm. The app won't tweet you and the information will remain private. Radar will leave it up to you to decide what action to take, depending on how close you are with the person or if the tweet was actually a joke. Samaritan's app aims to show you these tweets in case you may have missed it, and prompting you to take action if you feel like you should.

Looking into the future, the Samaritans Radar could even be applied to other social media networks and the algorithm could be tweaked to identify other issues such as cyber-bullying.

Samaritan most certainly have the right idea, turning to social media, a space people are using more and more, to help young people deal with depression and other mental health problems. It is also giving you the tools to act upon what you see on Twitter, and you might feel like is a person reaching out for help. It's good to see social media being used as a positive tool rather than a negative one.


Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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Samaritans Launches Twitter App To Help Prevent Suicides Reviewed by Laura Veit on Thursday, October 30, 2014 Rating: 5
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