Year: 2017 SIEC No: 20170323

Traditional approaches to the prediction of suicide attempts have limited the accuracy and scale of risk detection for these dangerous behaviors. We sought to overcome these limitations by applying machine learning to electronic health records within a large medical database. Participants were 5,167 adult patients with a claim code for self-injury (i.e., ICD-9, E95x); expert review of records determined that 3,250 patients made a suicide attempt (i.e., cases), and 1,917 patients engaged in self-injury that was nonsuicidal, accidental, or nonverifiable (i.e., controls). We developed machine learning algorithms that accurately predicted future suicide attempts (AUC = 0.84, precision = 0.79, recall = 0.95, Brier score = 0.14). Moreover, accuracy improved from 720 days to 7 days before the suicide attempt, and predictor importance shifted across time. These findings represent a step toward accurate and scalable risk detection and provide insight into how suicide attempt risk shifts over time.