Algorithm Can Identify Suicidal People Using Brain Scans

Depression

(The Verge) – Scientists have trained a computer program to identify people with suicidal thoughts based on their brain scans. The study is small, but the method could one day be used for diagnosing mental health conditions, researchers say.

Nearly a million people worldwide die by suicide every year, and predicting suicide remains difficult, especially because many people feel uncomfortable talking about the issue. In a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, researchers observed the brain activity of two groups of adults — one who had suicidal thoughts and one who didn’t — while they thought about words such as “evil” or “praise.”

They fed this data to an algorithm that learned to predict who had suicidal thoughts with 91 percent accuracy. It also predicted whether someone had attempted suicide before with 94 percent accuracy. CONTINUE