Using technology to scale Caring Contacts and reduce suicide

Project Type(s):

On top of climate change, political divisiveness and cultural turbulence, we have faced the most devastating pandemic since global influenza 100 years ago. The resulting social and economic stresses have manifested as widespread anxiety, a worsening opioid epidemic and the highest suicide rates in decades.

Proven behavioral health strategies like Caring Contacts offer hope. Caring Contacts is a program where suicidal individuals receive periodic letters or text messages from a behavioral health practitioner, creating a connection and showing someone cares. Caring Contacts have reduced suicide deaths, attempts and thoughts of suicide and offer an easy re-connection to healthcare, but behavioral health practitioners are in high demand and short supply and often struggle with prioritizing messages and sending timely replies. By analyzing a patient’s text messages, computerized algorithms can identify indicators of risk and other important information to help behavioral health practitioners with the nature and timing of their responses, allowing one behavioral health practitioner to reach hundreds of suicidal patients.

This project brings together behavioral health care, mobile technologies that people now expect and innovative informatics methods to identify critical signs of suicide risk that busy practitioners may miss. Our team consists of experts in behavioral health, usability and design, artificial intelligence/natural language processing, software engineering, health care information systems and emergency medicine. Our goal is simple: to use technology to provide critical support for those in crisis, and to save lives.

Project Period:
September 1, 2021 October 31, 2022

Funding Type(s):

Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions

Geographic Area(s):

Practice Type(s):
Online/remote/apps/social media

Patient Population(s):

Targeted Condition(s):
Suicidal Ideation