Suicide Prevention Apps: Kind Of

NOTE: Let’s work together to create a longer list of resources! Add yours in the comments below.

Dear friends,

In the past few weeks two beloved celebrities chose to end their lives. They seemed to have it all: wealth, fame, wonderful families. Why in the world would they have wanted to end their lives? And, more importantly, why didn’t anyone KNOW? Why didn’t anyone HELP?

After Anthony Bordain’s death, I asked my community if it was appropriate to do a newsletter about apps for suicide prevention and mental health. The response (my most commented on post ever) was and overwhelming YES!

So on Thursday I thought I could quickly compose a list of apps and resources and get the newsletter out on Friday as usual.

The Bad News: There’s Not Really an App for That

In 2016, researchers analyzed 123 apps that referred to suicide. About 50 of those included at least one suicide prevention feature. But therein lies the problem… one prevention technique doesn’t suffice. “Many suicide prevention apps are available, some of which provide elements of best practice, but none that provide comprehensive evidence-based support,” the paper states.

My “No Kidding” Statement: Suicide Is Complicated

Take a look at the risk factors for suicide from #BeThe1To, a site from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for resources to prevent suicide. There’s a bunch of them. It’s not always about a lack of a community, or mental health issues or any one of the factors that might come to mind. So apps that address any one of these factors may not be enough.

That Being Said, Some Technological Resources Exist

I’d love to be able to offer you a list of perfect apps that you can simply install and be healthy. But as the researchers found, one tool doesn’t do everything. So here are some of the best resources I’ve found. Please add more in the comments.

Resources to Help Yourself

  • Call: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    This links to centers around the U.S. I used to work on a crisis line — the 12am-3am shift in Dallas. Volunteers are trained to help. Really. NOTE: You can also call if you’re worried about someone else.
  • Chat: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    Same group, different approach. There may be a wait.
  • Text: Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
    Free, 24/7 text chat when you need it.
  •  Specific Resources for Different Groups
    If you’re a veteran, a disaster survivor, a kid or someone who has suffered a loss, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has specific help for you and other communities who may need special resources.

Resources to Help Someone Else

  • #BeThe1To
    Lots of resources here to educate yourself about how to help.
  • Report on Social Media
    If you see warning signs of self-harm on social media posts, many platforms have a way to report it to get help for the person. I didn’t even know these existed.
  • Facebook
    Oh, and did you know that Facebook is using AI to identify self-harming behavior automatically? Here are the nerdy details about how it works.
  • Twitter
  • Instagram: “To report threats of suicide or self-harm on Instagram: Tap ‘…’ below the post, Tap Report Inappropriate, Select This Photo Puts People At Risk > Self-Harm.”
  •  Snapchat
  • YouTube: “To report threats of suicide or self-harm, click “More.” Highlight and click “Report” in the drop-down menu. Click “Harmful dangerous acts,” then “Suicide or self-injury.” YouTube will review the video and may send a message to the uploader with the Lifeline number.”

A Handful of Apps

The 2016 study liked the resources in apps that focused on safety plans. You download the app when you know you’re struggling, and it helps you assess and organize your coping strategies. The kicker, though, is that you have to be in a place where you’re willing to take steps.

  • MoodTools Apps
    MoodTools has a number of apps that focus on helping people lift themselves out of a downward spiral: Suicide Safety Plan, Depression Test and Mood Diary . The researchers called out MoodTools as a resource with the most features.
  • TalkLife
    This app is a community for young people who need help. The challenge is that kids have to be over 16 to use it.
  • Sanvello
    Sanvello (formerly Pacifica) helps you manage stress, anxiety and depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation and mood tracking.

Your Recommendations

As usual, you guys have some great resources. PLEASE ADD TO THE LIST IN THE COMMENTS. 

Please share and add to the resources.

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