Take a moment to look at your emoji keyboard. Scroll through the angry face, ghost, stiletto, doughnut, flashlight and cigarette until you reach the hearts.

There it is: love. Amid the mundane and humorous, those vibrant, colorful little shapes can easily become a rapid-fire display of affection to a friend, parent or partner. But notice, too, the broken and blue hearts, and their restrained reminders of sadness, loneliness or grief.

It turns out that these little characters are more important than we could imagine. Linguists, psychologists and computer scientists are discovering that what we collectively share on social media, and when, can signal information about our mental health. Some of these researchers believe machine learning, algorithms and mathematical analysis can give health care providers tools to help solve one of our most intractable public health epidemics: suicide. Read more…

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Why scientists think your social media posts can help prevent suicide