A suicide prevention app? Well, they say there’s an app for everything and I guess they ain’t lyin’.
Never mind how alarmed I am this post has been shared three times. And the hashtag offense — why are we hashtagging the word “prevent,” pray tell?
To be fair, at the very least, they are not wrong. According to the CDC, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. Also:
- Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
- Suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18.
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
- Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12.
- Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs. source
You do not get to post something like this so casually. Not without citing sources. Not when you’re making a claim. Not when the site you’re directing to gives no indication of any medical expertise. The address for their “business” is a private residence. No names are apparent. They have “contributing partners” like Ford and Las Fotos Project — these have nothing to do with health.
The post you click through to explains nothing. Just that the app will be demonstrated via webinar. You too can “be among the first to try this new suicide prevention learning tool—optimized for tablets.” (Cue jazz hands!)
The app in question is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Perhaps they were hoping to ride Facebook’s coattails and jump on the suicide prevention trend-train. There was also a similar app launch in February – The Broome HOPE App helps users recognize the warning signs of suicide and allows them to immediately connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. And MY3 let’s your create a an online support system and build a “safety plan.” Do we live in a society where suicide prevention is trendy? I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that tragedy. This should never be a thing. This should never be trendy.
SAMHSA’s app differentiates itself because it’s targeted at healthcare professionals instead of consumers, since about 50% of people who commit suicide have seen a doctor in the last month of their life. The app helps healthcare providers identify people who may be contemplating suicide.
Because I guess healthcare professionals don’t get enough schooling. They need an app for that.
I’m not against anything that aids in suicide prevention. I’m really not. But while we’re pushing this technology out, I hope we can all be responsible enough to know an app will NOT prevent suicide. I hope we can provide research and cite sources and word things with care. This is an area where we can’t afford to be cool and trendy with jazz hands.
Yes, an app can provide resources and a network of support. You know what else does that? Google. Friends and family. And properly trained healthcare professionals.
And that’s all I got for this round of rant. If you or someone you know needs help, make sure you get help. Here are two excellent starting points:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
- The Trevor Project: 1 (866) 488-7386
Jessica Gottlieb says
I love tech, not a little. A lot. I love when tech can support the best of our humanity but this is completely irresponsible & good on you for a) calling them out b) offering reasonable alternatives.