Samaritans rolls out new life saving Samaritans Radar app

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UK suicide prevention charity Samaritans has launched an app that will warn users if their friends or connections online are at risk of suicide.

Dubbed Samaritans Radar, the new web app, targeted predominantly at the 15 to 35 age group, uses a special algorithm to monitor specific keywords and explicit phrases like “kill myself” or “want to die,” as well as “end it all,” “sleep and never wake up,” or “I’m worthless” that may indicate someone is distress or at risk for suicide. Developed by digital agency Jam, the new life saving app makes use of Twitter’s API.

Users who have signed up for the app will be notified through an email alert, if someone they follow tweets any such alleged statements, with a link to the tweet that raised the alarm as well as guidance on the best way of providing support to the tweeter which includes getting in contact with the person through a tweet, sending an email or text message “gently asking how they’re doing,” or making a call to the person on the phone.

Joe Ferns, executive director of policy, research and development at Samaritans, said: “We know that people struggling to cope often go online looking for support, but there is still so much we need to learn about why this happens and how we can make the online environment safer for vulnerable people.”

“By not addressing this issue we run the risk of shutting these discussions down and driving them underground. Instead we need to use tools such as Samaritans Radar to encourage people to look out for one another online, helping them to reach out and offer support,” Joe added.