Year: 2016 Source: Internet Interventions.(2015).2(20:183Ð188.doi:10.1016/j.invent.2015.03.005 SIEC No: 20160006

Twitter is increasingly investigated as a means of detecting mental health status, including depression and suicidality, in the population. However, validated and reliable methods are not yet fully established. This study aimed to examine whether the level of concern for a suicide-related post on Twitter could be determined based solely on the content of the post, as judged by human coders and then replicated by machine learning. From 18th February 2014 to 23rd April 2014, Twitter was monitored for a series of suicide-related phrases and terms using the public Application Program Interface (API). Matching tweets were stored in a data annotation tool developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). During this time, 14,701 suicide-related tweets were collected: 14% were randomly (n = 2000) selected and divided into two equal sets (Set A and B) for coding by human researchers. Overall, 14% of suicide-related tweets were classified as Ôstrongly concerningÕ, with the majority coded as Ôpossibly concerningÕ (56%) and the remainder (29%) considered Ôsafe to ignoreÕ. The overall agreement rate among the human coders was 76% (average κ = 0.55). Machine learning processes were subsequently applied to assess whether a Ôstrongly concerningÕ tweet could be identified automatically. The computer classifier correctly identified 80% of Ôstrongly concerningÕ tweets and showed increasing gains in accuracy; however, future improvements are necessary as a plateau was not reached as the amount of data increased. The current study demonstrated that it is possible to distinguish the level of concern among suicide-related tweets, using both human coders and an automatic machine classifier. Importantly, the machine classifier replicated the accuracy of the human coders. The findings confirmed that Twitter is used by individuals to express suicidality and that such posts evoked a level of concern that warranted further investigation. However, the predictive power for actual suicidal behaviour is not yet known and the findings do not directly identify targets for intervention.