By Adam Hofmann
September 4, 2018

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SAINT JEROME, Canada - While you might think that your mental health is
known only to you, your health practitioner or those closest to you, you
might be unwittingly revealing it to strangers online. A series of emojis,
words, actions or even inactions can communicate how you feel at a given
moment and when collected over time, comprise your "socionome" - a digital
catalogue of your mental health that is similar to how your genome can
provide a picture of your physical health.

Today, a number of efforts have been made to design algorithms to scan
online behaviors for markers of mental illness. Crisis Text Line, a
messaging service that connects users to crisis counselors, uses a chatbot
to flag callers at risk of suicide and bump them to the front of the
helpline. The services' data scientists have found, for example, that when a
caller texts the word "Advil" or "Ibuprofen" to Crisis Text Line, his or her
risk of attempting suicide is up to 14 times higher than that of the average
caller.