CRIS Blog: Artificial Intelligence and Data in Suicide Prevention

This blog was written by Rina Dutta, Senior Clinical Lecturer and  Consultant Psychiatrist and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. She tweets from @rina_dutta

On Wednesday 22 January 2020, the Zero Suicide Alliance presented their third national conference with the theme of Artificial Intelligence and Data in Suicide Prevention.

In my plenary keynote talk ‘Using Data Science to Understand Suicidality and Self-harm’ I discussed how the risk assessment of suicidality is a time-consuming but inaccurate activity for mental health services internationally.

In the last 50 years a large number of tools have been designed for suicide risk assessment, and tested in a wide variety of populations, but studies show that these tools suffer from low predictive values.

More recently, advances in research fields such as machine learning and natural language processing applied on large datasets have shown promising results for healthcare, and may enable an important shift in advancing precision medicine.

I explained how data science is being used for identification of suicidality and self-harm, using as examples the work we are doing using the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) system which was developed for use within the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) but is now also used in other trusts.  In our case it provides authorised researchers with regulated, secure access to anonymised information extracted from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust electronic clinical records system and enables us to study much richer data in fine-grained detail.

I provided a perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of such approaches to mental health-related data, and suggested research directions to enable improvement in clinical practice.

Thanks to André Tomlin from the Mental Elf (@Mental_Elf) and Vanessa Gilmartin Garrity (@VanessaRNMH) from WeMHNurses there was live tweeting of the event using hashtag #ZSAconf20

André and Vanessa recorded audio podcast interviews on the day, including this one which they recorded with me over lunch at the event.

Along with Dr Geraldine Strathdee, OBE, MRCPsych, National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England, Jim Hughes, Director of Informatics and Knowledge Management at Mersey Care NHS Trust, Dr Cecil Kullu, Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Medical Director for Research, Development & Innovation at

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Elaine Darbyshire, Executive Director at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, and a few more from the Zero Suicide Alliance as well as the Department of Health and Social Care, I shall be involved in a live Twitter chat extending the subject from 20:00 to 21:00 on Monday 2 March 2020.


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By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 2 Mar 2020, 09:32 AM


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