Technology-Aided Suicide Prevention
Technology continues to advance and to provide the field of suicide prevention with new tools. Whether you are a healthcare provider, mental health clinician, therapist, or other organization that can make good use of them, we invite you to explore the tools below and add them to your website for easy linking.
SAMHSA has just launched a new free mobile app, Suicide Safe, to help health care providers (both physical and mental health) assist patients with suicidal ideation and behaviors. The app uses the SAFE-T model developed by Screening for Mental Health and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (SAFE-T stands for “Suicide assessment five-step evaluation and triage” and was designed for mental health professionals).
MY3 is a safety planning app developed here in California by the Know the Signs campaign, Santa Clara County and a group of individuals with lived experience in suicidal behaviors and thoughts. It is available in English and in Spanish, and is designed for individuals who may experience suicidal crises to help them avert crises and practice self-care, as well as reach out for help. www.my3app.org includes a brief video, fliers and cards that can be downloaded and printed out, and a widget to add to your website.
Both apps are tools for providers to use with their clients but only MY3 is intended to be downloaded onto the patient’s phone. And patients should create their safety plan in partnership with a provider, therapist or counselor.
Facebook recently launched a platform for reporting posts from users who may be in suicidal crisis.
You can flag a post as troubling, after which a dedicated team at Facebook will review the post and reach out to the individual. As the person who reported the post, you’re also given suggestions on how to best help a person in need or receive support for the emotional distress of encountering a friend or loved one who is suicidal. The process of flagging a post is simple, taking only a few taps or clicks. It’s so simple, actually, there’s no excuse for not using it when it’s warranted:
- You start by flagging a post by clicking or tapping on the arrow in the top-right corner of the post.
- Select “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.”
- Select “It’s hurtful, threatening or suicidal.”
- Select “I think they might hurt themselves.”
Read through the “What You Can Do” screen, which offers advice on how you can help a friend in need. At the bottom of that screen is the option to request Facebook look at the post. Alternatively, you can send a message to the friend, or to a mutual friend in an effort to help the person. When using the Facebook tool, keep in mind that if you choose the option to have Facebook send the person a message of support, it will NOT be anonymous. The message will read as if it was sent by you. There’s also the option of chatting with a trained helper for advice on how best to move forward. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, you can ALWAYS call 800-273-8255, from anywhere in the United States, to speak with a trained crisis volunteer.
Only a few years ago, few crisis centers offered texting options but increasingly, crisis texting options are available. Most are intended for teens. The following list is not comprehensive but covers the major services.
Crisis Text Line [text LISTEN to 741741] Offers support for teens 24/7 provided by trained volunteers and employees of crisis center partners. http://www.crisistextline.org/
The Alex Project [text ANSWER to 839863 or LISTEN to 741741] http://www.alexproject.org/ Founded in northern California by a family after losing their teenage son to suicide, the Alex Project publicizes three different crisis text lines. You can order wallet cards that promote the Crisis Text Line and that have a QR code on them. Also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Alex-Project/147008955396851
839863 also responds to the word “SAFE” as promoted by the Crisis Support Services in Alameda County; this service is for teens and is currently offered from 4 – 11 p.m.
Wellspace operates the Suicide Prevention Crisis Line that serves 36 counties in northern California. They encourage texting HOPE to 916-668-4226 (iCAN). http://www.wellspacehealth.org/suicide_prevention.htm
San Francisco Suicide Prevention promotes texting MYLIFE to 741741 for 24/7 support.
Until recently, Lifeline chat services were available 12 hours a day, but now their website states 24 hours availability. Connect to a live chat room here http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx They offer chat through CONTACT USA http://www.crisischat.org/
San Francisco Suicide Prevention offers 24-hour chat through their website http://www.sfsuicide.org/
Other crisis centers offer crisis chat through their websites although some operate only 12 hours daily. Please check the website of the crisis center that serves your county. In all instances, phone lines are always available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Remember, at one time, telephones were regarded as being high-tech!