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University of Alicante researchers launch Life Project! To detect suicidal tendencies on social networks

The goal is the creation of a web platform where prevention organisations can be anonymously alerted on potentially suicidal messages

According to HWO, nearly one million people die worldwide every year as a result of this issue.



UA members of the Language Processing and Information Systems Group linked to Life Project! Suicide Prevention on Social Networks


Alicante. Friday, 10 June 2016

Suicide is the most frequent cause of violent death in Europe. In fact, over 800,000 people die worldwide as a result of suicidal behaviour, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).. That is why one of the objectives of the University of Alicante Language Processing and Information System Group is to establish the means for proper detection and prevention of these behaviours through the Life Project! Suicide Prevention in Social Networks.

Problems such as depression, drugs, alcohol, bullying, child abuse and money matters are the main triggers of this behaviour. In the case of young people, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between 15 and 29 years old. The goal of Life Project! is to create a web platform where prevention organisations can be alerted anonymously before some kind of message or suicidal behaviour.

For this purpose, researchers at the University of Alicante have developed a tool to track and detect potentially suicidal messages on the network since 90% of children and young people aged from 14 to 24, make regular use of the Internet and social networks. Surely, if properly used, human language technologies and ICT can save countless lives and solve many problems related to harassment.

Importantly, self-induced deaths are potentially preventable and there is a growing tendency to publish messages encouraging suicide in media such as Facebook or Twitter, and even users who advertise their thoughts before making the attempt. "In our group, we are experts in creating social networking tools to track and extract information that is relevant to us. In the case of a text containing negative emotions in messages with  harassment and suicide notes, we give an alarm call”, Project Director Jose Manuel Gomez said.


Language Processing and Information System Group

This Group has been working for years on developing applications to detect emotions and feelings expressed in the network. As a result of this work, they have managed to develop interesting applications such as SocialRankings and SocialAnalytics that enable to assess and analyse feedback from Twitter users on certain aspects such as politics, business, public persons, organisations, etc.

In this sense, Project Life! can use with social networks as a great tool for information and prevention, as potentially suicidal people often warn their actions through various means. "The challenge for human language technologies is to process the new terminology used in social media as abbreviations, slang, emoticons and more generally, an unstructured and highly informal  language," UA researcher said. 


Crowdfunding campaign

The Language Processing and Information System Group, other than having the support of the University of Alicante, have decided to launch a collaborative crowdfunding campaign, ie, citizen participation, to create the website for Life! Project where suicide prevention organisations can be alerted anonymously. Donations may be made through Precipita platform, launched by the the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) as a meeting point between researchers and people interested in science.


PROJECT LIFE! - Click on the picture to watch video



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