Suicide prevention is everyone's business: challenges and opportunities for Google

Kirtley, O. J. and O'Connor, R. C. (2020) Suicide prevention is everyone's business: challenges and opportunities for Google. Social Science and Medicine, 262, 112691. (doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112691) (PMID:32247626)

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Abstract

The internet has become a key frontier for large-scale, public health efforts in suicide prevention. Market-leading technology companies, such as Google, are developing interventions to deliver support information to those experiencing suicidal distress, but the precise technology, i.e. algorithms, behind this are proprietary. This raises important ethical questions regarding whether such large-scale public health interventions for suicide prevention should be happening behind closed corporate doors when this makes the evaluation of such interventions extremely difficult. Furthermore, as illustrated by Arendt et al. (2019), initiatives such as Google's Suicide Prevention Result (SPR) appear not to work in circumstances in which they could be of significant potential benefit, such as when individuals are searching for details of celebrity suicides. In the current commentary, we discuss ways in which the SPR can be optimized, based on existing evidence regarding suicide-related internet use. We go on to discuss the ethical issues of large technology companies becoming key players in suicide prevention and critically consider how online public health initiatives of this kind are able to be evaluated.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Connor, Professor Rory
Authors: Kirtley, O. J., and O'Connor, R. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0277-9536
ISSN (Online):1873-5347
Published Online:18 January 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd
First Published:First published in Social Science and Medicine 262:112691
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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