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Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

The Durkheim Project: Privacy Considerations in Predicting Military and Veteran Suicide Risk

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson - Dartmouth

Sep 25, 2013

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The DARPA Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS) program provided initial funding for the Durkheim Project. While DCAPS as a whole addressed PTSD, the Durkheim Project sought to predict military and veteran suicide risk. We developed a clinician's dashboard, which presents suicide risk predictions for the clinician's patients based on analysis of: a) free text portions of VA medical records and, b) opt-in social media postings. Dartmouth's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects approved our protocol to conduct a Veterans Affairs (VA) medical records study with the White River Junction, Vermont, VA Medical Center. A second protocol has been approved to study opt-in Facebook postings from active duty military personnel and veterans. We have built the software infrastructure to collect these opt-in postings in collaboration with Facebook. A third protocol is currently being developed to support intervention, when high suicide risk is predicted. This talk will describe the Durkheim Project, focusing on privacy issues related to using opt-in social media postings.

About the Speaker

Paul Thompson's thesis research was on probabilistic information retrieval. He was an assistant professor at Drexel University's College of Information Studies and then a member of PRC, Inc.'s (now part of Northrop Grumman) artificial intelligence development group, where he conducted research in natural language understanding and information retrieval. He later worked for West Publishing Company (now part of Thomson - Reuters). After joining Dartmouth College’s Institute for Security Technology Studies in 2001, he became the technical lead for the Semantic Hacking project. He also participated in an Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P) research project on control system security in the oil and gas industry. He is currently an instructor in the Department of Genetics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He was the co-principal investigator on the DARPA Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals program’s Durkheim project.

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