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Startup asks people to ‘donate’ social media for suicide prevention

Qntfy, a Crownsville, Maryland-based, early-stage company, recently launched OurDataHelps.org, in conjunction with a psychologist and two suicide prevention activists.

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A data-mining startup is asking people to “donate” access to their social media accounts in the name of suicide prevention.

Qntfy, a Crownsville, Maryland-based, early-stage company, recently launched OurDataHelps.org, in conjunction with a psychologist and two anti-suicide activists.

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“We have never found a way to put a dent in the suicide numbers,” that psychologist, April Foreman, told The Mighty, an online news site for people fighting disease and disability.

“The only thing standing between us and using these new technologies is having enough information to study,” Foreman said. “And if you donate your or a loved one’s social media data, we maybe be one step closer to saving someone else.”

Volunteers can visit OurDataHelps.org and providing links to their social media accounts — or the accounts of someone who committed suicide. The site requires “data donors” to complete a survey on their mental health histories. Identifiers are stripped away, according to The Mighty.

The idea is to gain insights into the mindset of people who have contemplated or attempted suicide — or who may be at risk of doing so.

“It’s a game changer for suicide prevention researchers,” Qntfy CEO and Founder Glen Coppersmith is quoted as saying. “And for people who care about suicide prevention, this is a way to help people who are suffering in a real way.

“I don’t want your money, I want your data,” Coppersmith added.

“There’s simply not enough data available now,” explained Tony Wood, co-founder of Suicide Prevention Social Media Chat. “With the data that’s available now, you can do this kind of vague analysis, but you can’t really get into nitty-gritty stuff. In order to push forward and get real results, we need data from real people. And we need a lot of it.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons