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The WebGenre Blog: The power of genre applied to digital information. By Marina Santini » ReLIVE




At the present society, the suicide phenomenon is having an increasing impact on different levels of our society, both on social and economic perspectives. In parallel with this, social media developed with the massive use of the Web 2.0 are becoming a common channel to express suicide intentions, as well as to host sites that encourage suicide initiatives. The project idea comes from the need to tackle suicide as a serious and public health unresolved problem. According to the World Health Organization, this phenomenon is the cause of half of the violent deaths worldwide, and it is estimated that in 2020, around 1.53 million people would die as a consequence of suicidal behaviours. Together with the psychological pain caused to the social environments of the victim, it is also important to underline the high costs, associated to suicide or suicide attempts. Such costs, with a high effect to the Governments, range from direct Government investments in prevention programmes and health cost related to psychological and pharmacological treatments to intangible expenditures, referring to the premature death, opportunity losses, or decrease of life quality. In Europe, suicide has become the leading violent cause of death and since 2008 its rate has increased, also in conjunction with the European economic crisis, being the annual costs derived from this problem more than 182 000 million euro. Furthermore, social media represent an appropriate and commonly used mechanism for sharing information, especially amongst the youngsters. The misuse of this technology has contributed to the appearance of a new form of suicide, namely cyber suicide, mainly among young users. This new kind of suicide is supported by specific pro-suicide forums and websites, together with the fact that on-line anonymous conversations may be produced through these means that could result in a higher encouragement for committing suicide. Therefore, in the current society, it is crucial for Governments to define and model new policies and strategies for preventing suicide, and face this problem at the first sign, exploiting the huge potential of the Information and Technology Communications (ICT).

Under these premises, the main objective of this project is to develop an intelligent platform able to automatically monitor, retrieve, classify and extract potential pro-suicide messages, with the purpose of alerting health professionals where such dangerous sites/messages are located, so they can provide support and help from its origins. In addition, social media tools will be employed for the creation of a social network group with the goal of offering real-time, ubiquitous, 24/7 personalized and active monitoring for users who committed a previous suicide attempt, thus providing health specialists a useful ICT tool for supporting their daily activities as far as this type of mental disorder is concerned, also alerting them when necessary.

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