Articles  |  ,   |  July 17, 2019

Canada Protocol: an ethical checklist for the use of Artificial Intelligence in Suicide Prevention and Mental Health

Article by Carl-Maria Mörch, Abhishek Gupta and Brian L. Mishara.
Submitted to CRISIS (The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention), Hogrefe.


To improve current public health strategies in suicide prevention and mental health, governments, researchers and private companies increasingly use information and communication technologies, and more specifically Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. These technologies are promising but raise ethical challenges rarely covered by current legal systems. It is essential to better identify, and prevent potential ethical risks. Objectives: The Canada Protocol – MHSP is a tool to guide and support professionals, users, and researchers using AI in mental health and suicide prevention. Methods: A checklist was constructed based upon ten international reports on AI and ethics and two guides on mental health and new technologies. 329 recommendations were identified, of which 43 were considered as applicable to Mental Health and AI. The checklist was validated, using a two round Delphi Consultation. Results: 16 experts participated in the first round of the Delphi Consultation and 8 participated in the second round. Of the original 43 items, 38 were retained. They concern five categories: “Description of the Autonomous Intelligent System” (n=8), “Privacy and Transparency” (n=8), “Security” (n=6), “Health-Related Risks” (n=8), “Biases” (n=8). The checklist was considered relevant by most users, and could need versions tailored to each category of target users. [ . . . ]