Medical ethics project presentation will address social media and suicide prevention
Greenville, PA (03/09/2022) — The Community Medical Ethics Project will host Jamie Zelazny, Ph.D. to discuss the ethics and role of social media in suicide prevention at 11 a.m. March 17 in the Lutheran Heritage Room of the Howard Miller Student Center at Thiel College.
Zelazny is an Assistant Professor of Health and Community Systems at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. During her career as a registered nurse and as a researcher, she has accrued more than 30 years of experience in psychiatric nursing in both clinical and research settings. Her primary research focus has been on the use of technology to identify and manage suicidal thoughts and behavior among youth. She is the principal investigator of a collaborative study with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that is studying non-verbal voice and facial behavioral indicators of suicidal thoughts in teenagers. In a second study that she is co-leading, Zelazny is working to identify risk factors of suicidal behavior by examining the social media data of suicidal teenagers. She is also a researcher for the Mobile Assessment for the Prediction of Suicide Study, a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, that uses smartphone technology to monitor adolescent suicidal thoughts and behavior risk factors.
Zelazny's research has been published several times in journals including the American Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She serves as Vice Chair on the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board, as Chair of the Quality Improvement Committee of the Board of Directors for Allegheny Health Choices, Inc., and has also served in leadership positions for Sigma Theta Tau while remaining a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
Zelazny's presentation, "Social Media and Suicide Prevention: Ethical Considerations," analyzes suicide as a major public health problem. She will look at the current limitations in the assessment of imminent suicidal risk due to its reliance on patient self-report during clinical visits. Thus, the ability to develop direct, objective assessment methods to augment self-report has the potential to greatly impact clinical assessment methods. A promising approach is the application of machine learning methods to social media data to identify risk factors predictive of imminent suicidal risk.
Machine learning and natural language processing methods have been applied to social media data to study a number of physical health conditions. However, the ethical issues loom much larger when applying these methods to mental health conditions, and especially to suicide risk.
The Community Medical Ethics Project is a collaboration between Buhl Regional Health Foundation, UPMC Horizon, Thiel College, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and St. Paul's Continuing Care Community. Its mission is to help people in the community better understand medical ethics issues so they can make better decisions involving their healthcare.
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