#SPSM: The Manifesto Episode, 2/26/17, 9pCT

#SPSM will be discussing our suicide prevention manifesto, 2/26/17, 9pCT.

What’s our manifesto, and why do one now?

SPSM has always had a point of view. We aim to use social media to have an expert to expert conversation about suicide prevention, social media, digital technology, and innovation…at the speed of technology and innovation, and not years behind it (the pre-SPSM speed of traditional expert to expert media in suicide prevention).

This was a bold undertaking…and in the last four years we feel our community is living this mission, and having an impact on accelerating and elevating the conversation on suicide prevention. In the meantime, our community has learned a few things, and is starting to crystallize a clear point of view about a possible future free of the blight of suicide, along with the challenges that must be undertaken to get there. This is *our* “suicide prevention moonshot.”

Here is our SPSM Manifesto

  1. Suicide is an enormous, global blight on humanity, and years of doing what we’ve been doing has not moved the needle on this problem in a powerful way. It’s time for radical solutions.
  2. “Radical solutions” will require a passionate, unapologetic quest for the resources (financial, institutional, political, and technical) to address this problem at scale.
  3. “Radical solutions” will require “suicidologists” to reach out and collaborate effectively with people in a number of science, technology, and media disciplines we’ve never worked with before.
  4. Because “radical solutions” will inevitably require use of “breakthrough technology” to address suicide at the scale of the problem, it is likely we will have to build things that do not yet exist, and we probably do not know, at this moment in time, what that is. We need to start dreaming big, taking risks, and proposing designs for suicide prevention at the scale of the problem. Then we need to start doing what it takes to actually attempt these designs, with a focus on tracking outcomes.
  5. We must become unattached to suicide prevention “solutions” that do not deliver results at scale. This will require a real realignment of motivations.
  6. Because we will be trying radical, multidisciplinary solutions to suicide prevention we need to solve the research and development process problems that consistently interfere with innovation at scale.
  7. Ethics writing, standards/practices benchmarks, and policy work needs to be funded and incentivized to keep pace with innovation. Without these important system elements, no innovation could be responsibly implemented.

Watch us nail our theses to the front door of YouTube, LIVE:

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#SPSM chats: Apps to assess #suicide risk level, 2/19/17, 9pCT

SPSMer chat about suicide risk assessment apps, 2/19/17, 9pCT.

In the years since SPSM started (we can’t believe we are writing this sentence) there has been an explosion of app development in the suicide prevention space. And, interestingly enough, there has been very little scientific review for this. There has been an very interesting review of these, and you should read it, here.

And, in recent months, there is even one digital tool (when combined with a blood test) that developers suggest may be able to predict your likelihood of suicide risk with high accuracy.

One area of particular controversy are apps that propose to identify your level of suicide risk. Given that assigning “low/medium/high” risk levels is a somewhat common clinical activity, that also has some controversial empiric basis, and the possible implications of having a digital tool that does this, SPSM will be discussing the implications and issues surrounding these apps.

Watch us LIVE here:


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#SPSM chats about supporting a #SoMe community that is surviving a #suicide, 2/12/17, 9pCT

SPSM chats about supporting social media communities that are surviving a suicide, 2/12/17, 9pCT.

As social media plays an increasingly larger role in creating community and support for everyone (including suicide attempt survivors) there are likely to be social media-based communities that will experience suicide losses, and at the same time consist of many members with lived experience of suicide attempt and risk.

Responding to a suicide loss sensitively, and effectively, however may not have “hard and fast rules” or one “right way” for influencers or group members to react. SPSM alum, Dese’Rae Stage joins SPSM to discuss her experience and wisdom in this area.

Watch the conversation LIVE here, and participate in the twitter chat at hashtag #SPSM:

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@Dirk_Hovy chats with #SPSM about predictive vs. explanatory models in #suicide #prevention, 2/5/17, 2pCT

Dr. Dirk Hovy chats with #SPSM about the important differences between predictive versus explanatory models (from a data science perspective), and we’ll discuss how this applies to suicidology, 2/5/17, at a special time, 2pCT.

Why is this important? Well, it turns out that explanatory models are focused on explaining the causes of a phenomena (identifying risk factors, for example). Predictive models just predict that phenomena. A model that *explains* something may not necessarily be good at *predicting* it. And, when it comes to suicide prevention this is a big deal. These models are often confused, and actually use different kinds of statistical modeling.

Explanatory models on suicide, such as Joiner’s Interpersonal Theory, or other models that aim to identify risk factors have never really been successful at predicting a suicide. However, we really haven’t taken good advantage of data science and possible predictive modeling. If we still struggle with the math for identifying who is likely to die by suicide, perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. Let’s chat about this! For more reading about applications of this approach in psychology and suicide prevention, check out these articles:



You can watch Dr. Hovy LIVE here:


Dr. Hovey works in Natural Language Processing (NLP), a subfield of artificial intelligence. His research focuses on computational sociolinguistics, i.e., the intersection of sociolinguistics and statistical natural language processing (NLP). The goal of his research is to integrate sociolinguistic knowledge into NLP models. He uses large-scale statistics to detect and model the interaction between people’s demographic profile and their language use (see here or here). He is also interested in semantics (modeling what words mean in context), and non-standard language. He works as an associate professor at the computer science department (DIKU) at the University of Copenhagen.



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#SPSM chats about digital crisis communication best practices: Emojis, memes, GIFs and other enriched text, 1/29/17, 9pCT

SPSM experts chat about how the rise in digital communications using emojis, GIFs, and memes have impacted, or will impact best practice standards for digital crisis communications. Join us Sunday, 1/29/17, 9pCT

2016 saw a dramatic rise in use of emojis, memes, GIFs and other rich digital communication in our every day interactions. Social media platforms heavily used by the general public (such as Facebook) added features to expand the search-ability and easy use of “stickers,” emojis, GIFs and other images to quickly and visually communicate complex thoughts and feelings with others.

These digital features are increasingly included in apps most people use to do basic things, such as text messaging (which is a common way of communicating, and which is one means for seeking out crisis services). Additionally, early analysis of text language suggest that frequency of emoji use might be one digital signal related to mood and mental health.

While, in many cases, the present standard in crisis text services is to disable features for rich digital communication on the platform that support that crisis service, is this the best idea, going forward?

If crisis services become embedded in most major social media platforms (a trend that may be coming), and if the trend of digitally rich communication continues, it makes sense to consider early on what should be the best practices are for crisis communications (and suicide prevention messaging).

Watch us stream LIVE here (and contribute your own ideas/thoughts/content on Twitter, using the #SPSM hashtag):



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@Texas_Tomboyish, Amanda Towler, chats with #SPSM about #suicide, and the #darkweb, 1/22/17, 9pCT.

Amanda Towler chats with SPSM about suicide and the dark web, Sunday, 1/22/17, 9pCT.

Who is Amanda Towler? What is the dark web? What does that to do with cheesy summer crime thriller novels that DocForeman reads to “relax” during the summer? And how does this relate to things we should learn about, things we should study, and how we might think about suicide and social media?

WE’RE LIVE and back from our holiday hiatus! Watch the live stream here:


Amanda Towler of Hyperion Gray began her career as a geopolitical intel analyst, and a few years ago she incidentally fell into the world of infosec (information security) and software development, where she promptly learned everything the hard way. Her official title is “Queen Overlord of All Things Business-y” but she is also the project manager, the bean counter, the coffee and tea maker, the make-sure-you-eat-something-er, the are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-that-er and the do-whatever-needs-doing-er. She is absolutely thrilled to get to spend every day hanging out with the smartest, coolest people she’s ever met and watching them work their magic, while she keeps the administrative monkeys off their backs and sits in all the meetings so they don’t have to.

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#SPSM chats with @800273TALK and @CrisisTextLine about the impact of #ElectionCrisis16, 12/14/16, 9pCT

John Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Bob Filbin, Chief Data Scientist at Crisis Text Line, join Dr. Bart Andrews, and special guest Chris Maxwell for a special #SPSM chat, 12/4/16, 9pCT. Don’t worry, @DocForeman will be moderating on Twitter, but is making room on the feed for needed expertise to effectively discuss #ElectionCrisis16

During the 2016 Presidential Election, crisis services across the United States experienced an unprecedented spike in crisis contacts, a spike several times the usual volume for a weeknight. This spike was so notable it was covered in most major news outlets during the week, including HuffPost, CNN, and others.

Our esteemed panel will discuss what happened, how crisis services responded, what the data shows us, and what we learned. Social media played a role in the spike, and also was a key communication channel leaders in this field used to respond to public concerns.

For example, read this press release by Crisis Text Line:

“You Got This, America (Dated: 11.9.16)

“Tuesday was a bit of surprise–for the people who are happy about the election results and the people who are unhappy. The entire country is feeling feels.

“What is the data?

“In the last 24 hours, we saw a 2x increase in volume.

  • The words “election” and “scared” are the top two things being mentioned by texters.
  • The most common association with “scared” was “LGBTQ.”
  • Over 5% of texters yesterday mentioned anxiety about family disagreement over the election.

“How are we handling this moment?

“We rallied! Our community of trained volunteer Crisis Counselors has been incredible. And, amazingly, our quality and response times have been higher than average!

  • Despite the increase in volume, we actually saw a 2 percentage point increase in satisfaction ratings. (A whopping 88% of texters said that connecting with us was helpful.)
  • Despite the increase in volume, we actually saw a 3 percentage point increase in speed. We were able to help 91% of texters in under 5 five minutes–including “high severity” texters connecting with a human in an average 39 seconds.

“How can YOU handle this moment?

“You’re feeling a lot of feels (confusion, fear, depression), but you’re probably not in crisis. There are simple things you can do to keep yourself calm and safe. And, you can share these things with other people too! (Helping others get calm is a terrific way to help yourself!)

  • Kindness. Do a random, anonymous act of kindness for someone else today. Putting love out there in the world is an amazing way to help someone else–and you–feel happy.
  • Community work.Frustrated about the national political landscape? Think local! Be part of a hands-on solution. DoSomething.org has hundreds of ideas–and they don’t require any $$.
  • People.Humans need other humans. If your parents voted for the other party, maybe avoid talking politics with your parents for a few days! Instead, spend time with people who feel your feels. Cook, exercise, binge on Netflix. Do activities with friends…beyond talking.
  • Self-Care. There are freeevidence-based techniques that can help you feel calm and in control: the 4-7-8 method54321 technique and this breathing gif.
  • Resources. We’ve listed some terrific resources at CrisisTextLine.org

“How to help a freaked-out friend?

“Are your friends having a tough time? You can help. Best thing you can do: listen.

  • Validate their feelings…and don’t try to solve the problem. You can’t solve other people’s problems!
  • Recognize their strengths. (“Wow, you are so brave.”)
  • Asking questions is great, and so is just simply listening. Lots of head nodding. Lots of hugs. Just be there.
  • Help them remember things that make them feel strong. Music? Exercise? Writing?
  • Feeling like you might be good at this? Apply to be a volunteer Crisis Counselor.

“You got this, America. Really, you do.”

Watch us LIVE here:


John Draper, Ph.D. is Project Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Draper has nearly 25 years of experience in crisis intervention and suicide prevention work, and is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in crisis contact center practices (hotline, online chat, SMS services, etc.). He oversees all aspects of the federally-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, which consists of over 160 member crisis centers across the country. Dr. Draper frequently presents at national conferences on subjects related to best practices in crisis intervention and suicide prevention, as well as the use of innovative technologies (text, chat, other online programs, etc.) in helping persons in emotional distress. Dr. Draper also frequently discusses the role of persons with lived experience of suicide (attempt survivors, loss survivors, etc.) in suicide prevention. Dr. Draper has been quoted in The New York TimesABC NewsThe New York Post, and TIME among others.


Bob Filbin is Chief Data Scientist at Crisis Text Line, the first large-scale 24/7 national crisis line for teens on the medium they use and trust most: texting. Bob has given keynote lectures on data science for social change at the YMCA National CIOs Conference, NFAR Summit, and SXSW. He has written for the Harvard Business Review and Medium, and was named one of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40 in 2016 who are making their mark in the nonprofit world. He lives in NYC.

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