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AI could help predict suicides – but rushing the technology could lead to big mistakes

Published: 8 November 2022
Image courtesy of Alexander Sinn, Unsplash

In a recent article published in The Conversation, Joseph Early, a University of Southampton and Alan Turing Institute Doctoral Student, exams why the AI approach to suicide prevention should be used in conjunction with other tools available to mental health professionals, and not as an overall predictor.


In the UK, a quarter of people who take their own lives were in contact with a health professional the previous week, and most have spoken to someone within the last month. Yet assessing patient suicide risk remains extremely difficult.

There were 5,219 recorded deaths by suicide in England in 2021. While the suicide rate in England and Wales has declined by around 31% since 1981, the majority of this decrease happened before 2000. Suicide is three times more common in men than in women, and this gap has increased over time.

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