Predictive analysis to identify those at risk under new suicide prevention plan

Technology such as artificial intelligence could be used help to identify those at risk of suicide under the Government’s new prevention strategy.

The document, published on Tuesday, pledges a focus on how predictive analysis, a research method where statistics are analysed to show trends and likely outcomes, could anticipate who is vulnerable to suicide based on their behaviour.

The first cross-Government suicide prevention plan includes a commitment to improving statistics on suicide, as well as data on contributing factors such as debt and gambling addiction, in order to increase their ability to identify those at risk.

It also aims to improve data held on causes of death among armed forces veterans.

These new technologies could assist efforts in reducing the number of suicides across the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Jackie Doyle-Price as the UK’s first suicide prevention minister in October, and she will work with Whitehall departments and local councils on the strategy.

It promises more focus on addressing the increase in suicide and self-harm among young people, while social media companies will be asked to take more responsibility for harmful online content which illustrates and promotes methods of suicide and self-harm.

Ms Doyle-Price (pictured) said: “As a society, we need to do everything we can to support vulnerable and at-risk people, as well as those in crisis, and give them the help they desperately need.

“I will be working with local councils, the NHS and the justice system to make sure suicide prevention plans are put in place across public services.

“Together, we will do everything in our power to meet our ambition to reduce suicides by at least 10% by 2020 – and I look forward to working collaboratively with social media and tech companies to help achieve our ambitions.”

The report says every prison must have a strategy to reduce suicides and self-harm, and improve the training and awareness of staff.

By the end of 2018/19, every NHS mental health trust will have a zero suicide ambition plan for mental health inpatients, which could save up to 80 lives a year.

Suicide bereavement support for families and staff working in mental health crisis services will be brought in across the country, amid efforts to enhance the ability to deliver personalised care and predict people at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “We welcome the publication of the work plan and hope it will help save more lives.

“We also need more research into the increases in self-harm and suicide among young people, and why gambling addiction and debt can drive suicides.

“Improving suicide data is essential to help us put more effective suicide prevention in place.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament.