Health Technologies

Call for increased international investment into AI tech to support suicide prevention – htn

Liverpool’s Zero Suicide Summit, taking place this week, is to include a panel discussion focusing on AI machine learning and technology in suicide prevention practices, with panellist and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust CEO Professor Joe Rafferty CBE to call for “further investment from all sectors to help with research”.

Professor Rafferty, also co-founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance, has noted that although there can be “negativity” around AI technology, Mersey Care has found a number of ways to utilise it in suicide prevention work, such as trialling an internet interceptor on its website which enables relevant messages to automatically appear if anyone searches for the term suicide. He also shared that the trust has been collaborating with Holmusk, developers of an evidence platform for mental and behavioural health, to explore deaths by suicide within its care. This work sees algorithms developed to identify risks, with this information then used to help develop a new pathway of care.

If AI tech is to support research into suicide prevention, then “we need investment in the UK and throughout the world,” commented Professor Rafferty. “We need all sectors, from private businesses to individuals to get involved in a co-ordinated response – the more we understand about risk factors, the more we can help those who feel so helpless that they believe taking their own life is their only option.”

Holmusk’s CEO Nawal Roy will join Professor Rafferty on the panel, along with Dan Joyce, consultant psychiatrist and professor of connected mental health at the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre; and Bobbi Jo Yaborough, clinical psychologist and health services researcher.

In other recent news around artificial intelligence, we reported that a new skin cancer pilot has been launched in Tameside and Glossop, featuring an AI platform to help triage and assess skin lesions for suspected cancer.

We also explored the UK government’s five-year suicide prevention strategy last September, which highlighted the value of digital resources, digital therapeutics and opportunities for machine learning and artificial intelligence in prevention.



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