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Preventing suicide with technology

The American Medical Association (AMA) has advised ways to improve suicide prevention measures using digital technology. The AMA cites a number of gaps that digital technology can be used to fill, including failure to proactively identify suicide risk, lack of efficiency in acting to improve safety, and a trend of poorly linking people at risk for suicide with appropriate supportive contacts.

The AMA offers the following ways to address these gaps using digital technology:

  1. Proactively Identifying Risk: The AMA advocates for the use of digital health algorithms to calculate consumer’s risk of suicide to more accurately screen for suicide risk.

  2. Improving Safety: The AMA references recent developments in digital health, such as the use of web-based computer programs, text-messaging platforms, smartphone apps, or smartwatch features that have safety planning capabilities to identify suicide risk. They state the importance of not only offering such tools, but ensuring that they have an element of engagement and implementation.

  3. Connecting with Supportive Contacts: It is important for there to be an interpersonal component for digital health tools that are aiming to prevent suicide, as it may be impersonal or isolating for someone to strictly be given access to supportive text messaging or digital messages.

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