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Irish researchers say they can identify suicidal people 'with 75 per cent accuracy'

The group at NUI Maynooth say the test could be used in hospitals to properly identify people with suicidal thoughts.

Image: Depressed and upset woman photo via Shutterstock

RESEARCHERS AT NUI Maynooth say they have developed a new computer system which can identify people experiencing suicidal thoughts with 75 per cent accuracy.

The team at the Department of Psychology in NUIM say the tool, which asks participants to answer yes or no to a series of statement under time pressure, could be used in hospitals to help evaluate whether people are at risk of suicide.

This, in turn, could help to better allocate scarce treatment resources.

Ian Hussey, a PhD student who is part of the NUIM team, said the tool picks up unconscious attitudes and intentions which the individual may not even be aware of.

Trials of the system have been carried out in St Patrick’s mental health hospital in Dublin over the past year,

Ireland’s suicide rate has increased significantly in recent years. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show 525 people took their own life in Ireland in 2011, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year. The figure could be even higher as a number of  possible suicides were recorded as having an ‘undetermined’ cause.

“Some of the most difficult behaviours to predict are those that occur very rarely but have large and devastating consequences, such as suicide,” said Professor Dermot Barnes-Holmes of the Department of Psychology in NUIM.

“Ireland is no strange to the issue of suicide and we have higher rates than the European average, especially among young men”.

If you feel you need to talk to someone, here are some groups which may be able to help:

Read: Voluntary group set up to address increase in suicide in Wexford >

Read: Number of primary school children with depression rises >

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