Suicide is a global problem that claims the lives of thousands of people every year. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people died by suicide in 2019. Among them, many were young people who struggled with mental health issues, bullying, and social isolation. However, a new initiative aims to prevent suicide by using artificial intelligence to detect and report suicidal posts on social media.
The Story Behind Sentinet
Sentinet is an AI-driven suicide prevention project that was created by Yasin Dus, a Tunisian-Belarusian teenager, and Georgiy Nefedov, a Columbia University graduate student. The idea came to Dus after he lost a close friend to suicide. He realized that many people who are at risk of suicide express their feelings online, but often go unnoticed by their friends, family, or the platform’s moderators. He decided to use his skills in programming and machine learning to create a tool that could identify and flag suicidal posts on social media platforms.
Dus and Nefedov recruited volunteers from around the world to join their mission. They developed an algorithm that scans X (previously Twitter) for posts that contain keywords or phrases related to suicide. The algorithm then assigns a probability score to each post, indicating how likely it is to contain suicidal ideation. The posts with high scores are then reviewed by human volunteers, who filter out false positives and report the genuine ones to X’s moderation team. The team then contacts the users who posted them and offers them resources and support.
The Impact of Sentinet
Sentinet was launched in September 2023, after Elon Musk’s controversial takeover of X. Many users reported an increase in hate speech, harassment, and toxicity on the platform, which could negatively affect the mental health and well-being of vulnerable people. Dus and Nefedov hoped that their tool could help reduce the risk of suicide among X users by providing them with timely intervention and assistance.
Since its launch, Sentinet has analyzed over 10 million posts and reported over 2,000 cases of suicidal ideation. The project has received positive feedback from both X users and mental health professionals. Many users have expressed their gratitude for being noticed and helped by Sentinet. Some have even credited the tool for saving their lives. Mental health experts have praised Sentinet for its innovative use of AI and its potential to prevent suicide.
The Future of Sentinet
Dus and Nefedov have big plans for Sentinet. They want to expand their project to other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. They also want to improve their algorithm by incorporating natural language processing and sentiment analysis techniques. They hope to make their tool more accurate, reliable, and scalable.
The creators of Sentinet believe that AI can be a powerful ally in the fight against suicide. They hope that their project can inspire other young people to use their skills and passion to make a positive difference in the world.