Li Fan, a 21-year-old student, posted a short message on Twitter-like Chinese Weibo shortly after Valentine's Day, attempting to commit suicide.
"I can't go any further. I have to give up," he wrote.
Soon after, he lost consciousness.
He was heavily in debt, fell with his mother, and suffered from severe depression.
About 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) from his Nanjing University, his post was detected by a program running on a computer in Amsterdam.
It marked this message, prompting volunteers from different places
When they could not evoke Mr. Li from afar, they reported their concerns to the local police and eventually saved him. come out.
This sounds unusual, but it is only a
founder of Huang Zhisheng, a senior artificial intelligence (AI) researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam.
In the past 18 months, 600 volunteers in China used his program, and these volunteers said they saved nearly 700 people.
"If you hesitate for a second, many lives will be lost," Mr. Huang told the BBC News.
"Every week, we can save 10 people."
The first rescue operation was on April 29, 2018.
22-year-old college student Tao Tao writes on Weibo in Shandong Province in northern China, she plans to commit suicide two days later.
Peng Ling, a volunteer from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and several other people also responded.
Ms. Peng told BBC News that they found a student friend's phone number through an earlier post,
"She said:" I tried to send her a message before going to bed and told She can pick her up. "
" She was on [Chinese app] WeChat, and then gradually calmed down.
"Since then, I have been checking her to see if she is eating. We also buy her a bunch of flowers through the Internet once a week."
After success, rescue The team rescued a man who tried to jump off the bridge and saved a woman who tried to commit suicide.
"Rescue work requires both luck and experience." Li Hong, a Beijing psychologist who has been involved for about a year.
She recalls how she and her colleagues visited eight hotels in Chengdu in order to find suicide women they knew who had booked a room in the city.
"All receptionists said that they said Ms. Li. "She doesn't know the woman.
"But one of them hesitated." We think that must be the hotel, and it is.
What to do
Java-based programs monitor multiple "tree holes" on Weibo and analyze the messages.
"Tree hole" is the online location The Chinese name. People are here to post secrets for others to read.
This name is inspired by a story in Ireland that tells a man who has revealed his secret to the tree.
An example is the post of Zou Fan, a 23-year-old Chinese student who wrote a message on Weibo before suicide in 2012.
After her death, thousands of other users added comments to her post and wrote down their own troubles, turning the original message into a "tree hole."
The AI program automatically increments the rank of posts it finds from 1 to 10.
"9" indicates that people firmly believe that they will commit suicide soon. 10 indicates that it may already be in progress.
Under these circumstances, volunteers attempted to call the police directly and/or contact relatives and friends of the person involved.
However, if the ranking is below the sixth level – meaning that only negative words are detected – the volunteers usually do not intervene.
One of the problems that teams often encounter is the belief of older relatives that depression is not a big deal.
"I know that I had depression when I was in high school, but my mother told me that this is absolutely "absolutely impossible – no longer considering it"," Mr. Li told the BBC News.
The artificial intelligence program also found a post from a young woman saying, "I will commit suicide when the New Year is coming."
But when the volunteer contacted her mother, they said she laughed. And said: "My daughter is very happy now. You dare to say that she intends to commit suicide."
Volunteers showed signs of depression in their daughters, and the mother did not take it seriously.
Only after the incident occurred, the police had to stop the young man from jumping off the roof and the mother changed her mind.
The long journey
Despite the success, Mr. Huang acknowledged the limitations of his project.
"Since Weibo limits the use of web crawlers, we can only collect about 3,000 entries at a time."
"So we can save only one or two per day on average." And we choose to focus on the most urgent situations."
Another problem is that some of them are rescued requiring long-term commitment.
"I spent most of my life occupied by these rescued people," Ms. Li said.
"Sometimes I will be very tired."
She said she is currently in contact with eight people who have been rescued.
"After they sent me a message, I must reply [to] as soon as possible," she said.
Some team members also tried to provide help offline.
For example, an AI professor is said to have found a data tag job for a person with a social anxiety disorder.
There is also the problem that suicidal thoughts can be returned.
Ms. Peng gave an example of a young man who “had looked better every day” after being rescued and then committed suicide.
"She is talking to me about changing a new portrait. Friday," Ms. Peng said, adding that after two days, the woman passed away.
"The person who has been with me for a long time is suddenly not there, and I am shocked."
In contrast, Mr. Li remained healthy and now works at the hotel.
"I like this job because I can communicate with a lot of people."
He added that although he is very grateful to the rescue team's efforts, it ultimately depends on everyone's long-term solution. Program.
"Different of their joys and sorrows are not completely linked."
"You must redeem yourself."
Davies Surya designed illustrations
At the request of the respondent,
If you are subject to self-mutilation mental health problems Or The effects of emotional distress, can be helped and supported through the BBC Action Line .