Artificial Intelligence to assist Suicide Prevention with Google Grant Funding

8 May 2019 has funded Turning Point, in partnership with Monash University, to receive a major grant to use artificial intelligence (AI) to assist the coding of national ambulance data for suicide-related attendances.

As the only Australian grant recipients, and one of only 20 organisations funded globally, we are excited to be working with Google to establish a cost-effective model that can inform suicide prevention efforts globally.

Ambulances are often the first point of contact in a crisis, making ambulance clinical records a unique data source to help inform suicide prevention efforts. The focus of this project will be the timely and cost-effective identification and coding of suicide-related ambulance attendance data to inform policy and public health responses for suicide prevention.

Turning Point team working on AI Suicide PreventionWe have been coding ambulance records for alcohol and drug-related attendances since 1998, and more recently, with funding from Beyond Blue and Movember, have demonstrated that ambulance records can also be used to map suicide-related attendances. Using data to explore trends and patterns in this way has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as ‘best practice’.

Given the ubiquity of ambulance services internationally, there is also potential for the AI-informed system to be adapted for use in low- and middle-income countries, or for coding other health issues (e.g., injury, violence). The resulting data plays a central role in informing public health prevention, policy and intervention, as well as identifying emerging trends, populations and geographical hotspots for targeted responses.

Professor Dan Lubman – Turning Point Director and Monash University Professor of Addiction Studies and Services says “Suicide rates are unfortunately continuing to rise in Australia and around the world. This grant from Google gives us the opportunity to undertake a project that has huge potential to make a positive impact, and we are incredibly grateful for their generous commitment to supporting this work.”

The Google AI Impact Challenge was an open call to non-profits, social enterprises, and research institutions around the world to submit their ideas to use AI to help address societal challenges.

Jacquelline Fuller, president of says “At Google, we have seen how AI can help us better accomplish daily tasks, and we believe in its potential to help address some of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges. We are excited to support Turning Point’s work to use AI to achieve even greater social impact.”

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