World Suicide Prevention Day: Life-saving crisis App is available to download now
10th September marks World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual awareness event that was initiated 11 years ago by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This year’s theme is ‘Suicide Prevention: One World Connected‘, reflecting the fact that connections are important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.
In Northern Ireland, where suicide rates have doubled in the last 15 years, two local men have dedicated time and resources to develop a not-for-profit, potentially life-saving, crisis App, Here2Help. The App which, in two taps, connects those in crisis or those supporting someone in crisis, to support organisations, was borne out of the developers exposure to the growing epidemic of suicide.
Noel McKee a counsellor with East Antrim Counselling and one of the developers of the App, explains: “We launched the App earlier this year at an awareness-raising event in Stormont with the support of the Health Minister, MLAs, health professionals and educators. Our App is designed for emergency situations when someone is in need of immediate crisis support or for friends, families or even strangers, who are faced with the dilemma of assisting someone in crisis. The App means you don’t need to remember numbers or even the name of the organisations providing assistance. You just need to know that you or someone else needs help and within two taps, you are connected to professional support.
“The App is very much in keeping with the theme of WHO’s Suicide Prevention: One World Connected initiative, which aims to raise awareness of suicide. Through smart phones, social media and other technological advancements, the world is a smaller place with even more opportunities to connect. Our App epitomises this as its very purpose is to provide a simple connection to a supporting organisation which can help.
“The not-for-profit App has been downloaded more than 2000 times since its launch and we are appealing for every smartphone user across the province to visit their respective App store to download Here2Help. You never know when you may be in need or someone you come across will be in crisis.”
Carrickfergus restaurateur, Jack Creighton who had lost three of his patrons in one year to suicide, worked alongside Noel, who counsels people who have attempted suicide or families who are coming to terms with the bereavement of losing a loved one through suicide, to commence the development of the App.
Noel adds: “We pursued grants and private funding streams through which we raised £5000 to bring this to market and although we have been well-supported, we are hoping to secure supplementary funding to develop the App further and let even more people know about it.
“Unfortunately opportunities for additional funding, such as those which may have previously been available through the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, are less likely to be offered through the Department’s evolving remit and current budget issues.
“Suicide doesn’t discriminate and affects people of all ages and background. In an urgent situation, this App can be life-saving and we are calling for the support of elected representatives in our aim to have this App on every single smartphone in Northern Ireland.
“Young people become familiar with technology and social media from a very early age in our society and while this can be enlightening, it can often expose young people up to behaviours and social pressures that can lead to suicidal thoughts. These young people often feel disconnectedness with our society so this App can help them to feel connected to, rather than isolated from, help or hope as they manoeuvre their personal emotional turmoil. This is a vital tool to connect young people with available resources and services quickly, if required.
“If we don’t all mobilise to work together to make connections in the bid to fight suicide, according to IASP, the number of people who die by suicide is expected to reach a staggering 1.5 million per year by 2020 – shocking statistics which we are hoping can be reduced through empowering people with direct access and connection to professional assistance for those in crisis.”
Here2Help also provides advice and can direct users to support agencies for a wide variety of issues including debt, abuse and drugs.
The App is now available to download on smartphones, free of charge, from the Google Play and Apple stores by searching for Here2Help.