Samaritans remove Twitter suicide app over ‘serious concerns’

An app designed by charity Samaritans has been removed due to concerns for others' mental health.

"Samaritans Radar" was designed by the charity to detect when people on social media site Twitter appeared to be posting suicidal thoughts. Using an algorithm to detect key words, it would then message the user if someone they followed was at risk.

The app would analyse Twitter accounts for phrases like "tired of being alone", "hate myself", "depressed", "help me" and "need someone to talk to."

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Soon after its release last month, however, a petition called for the Radar's removal. The app, it claimed, could be used by stalkers and bullies to target people at their most vulnerable. Others added that it was producing false positives, highlighting normal tweets as those of someone in danger.

"We are very aware that the range of information and opinion which is circulating about Samaritans Radar has created concern and worry for some people," said Joe Ferns, the charity's policy director, according to the BBC.

"[We] would like to apologise to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress. This was not our intention."

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Despite removing the app, Samaritans has defended their decision to launch it. Radar, it says, will be re-launched after "changes and adaptations".

"We will use the time we have now to engage in further dialogue with a range of partners," added Ferns. "Including in the mental health sector and beyond in order to evaluate the feedback and get further input."