Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Americans, with someone dying of suicide every 13.3 minutes in 2011. Traditional suicide prevention resources such as education, counseling and help lifelines are being augmented with mobile apps that expand the reach and try to save lives that might otherwise be lost. Check out 8 suicide prevention apps aimed to help those with suicidal thoughts, as well as friends, family, and loved ones looking to educate themselves and reach out to someone in need.
Disclaimer: These apps are intended to be supplemental resources to help people who may be at risk for suicide, but they are not meant to replace medical or mental-health advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help.
A Friend Asks (Android, iOS) is a free app by the suicide prevention group Jason Foundation. It aims to teach its users how to recognize the signs that someone close to them may be thinking about suicide, and how to reach out to them proactively. The app provides users with a list of common warning signs of suicide ideation, do's and don'ts for such a sensitive situation and easy access to resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
While "A Friend Asks" focuses on training users to recognize the signs of suicide ideation in others, MY3 (Android, iOS) is targeted squarely at those who are depressed or suicidal themselves. MY3 aims to keep you connected to your core network, asking you to choose three close contacts, such as friends, family, loved ones or your therapist, that you feel comfortable reaching out to whenever you feel down. In addition, MY3 helps you build your own Safety Plan, asking you to think through and list your own warning signs, coping strategies and support network, so that you can easily act when you recognize your warning signs. In addition, the app includes a wealth of suicide prevention resources and contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A project by Mental Health America of Texas, ASK & Prevent Suicide (Android, iOS) lists down warning signs that a person might be thinking of suicide, as well as practical advice on how to intervene using the ASK (Ask, Seek help/Stay safe, and Know how and where to refer) methodology. In addition, the app includes helpful links to more info, a quick dial function for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a variety of Texas-based hotlines and sections for Veteran's and LGBTQ resources.
4. Suicide Crisis Support (Android)
Suicide Crisis Support is an Android app by the QPR Institute that serves as an electronic version of its booklet “The Tender Leaves of Hope, Helping Someone Survive a Suicide Crisis." Intended for relatives and friends of those judged to be at risk of suicidal behavior, the eBook is designed to help understand a suicidal person's frame of mind, what might drive them to suicide and how to help. In addition, the app comes with a dialer to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a link to the QPR Institute, which offers suicide prevention training.
5. Ulster County SPEAK (Android, iOS)
Ulster County SPEAK (Suicide Prevention, Education, & Awareness Kit) is an Android and iOS app that provides suicide prevention information and resources. The app provides information on suicide warning signs and a guide on what to say and avoid when attempting to approach a suicidal person, with focused sections for veterans, adults and teens. It also comes with a variety of hotlines and links to suicide prevention resources.
HELP Prevent Suicide (Android, iOS) keeps its approach short and simple, with a home screen that puts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline contact number front and center, while also providing concise warning signs of suicide ideation and guidelines for how to help and ask a friend about potentially suicidal thoughts. Additional resources include a page of helpline numbers, online resources, and addresses and contact numbers for Oklahoma-based crisis centers.
Stay Alive is an Android and iOS app by the UK-based charity Grassroots Suicide Prevention, and is geared for people who may think of committing suicide, as well as friends and family who may want to help. The app comes loaded with resources, including a customizable "My Safety Plan" of actions, places and people that can help calm you down when you're feeling suicidal, a Lifebox that you can fill with your personal inspirational photos and access to breathing exercises and grounding techniques. Concerned friends can read up on warning signs of suicidal behavior, practical steps to help, myths about suicide and what not to say when trying to comfort or approach a suicidal person. The only slight downside is that its hotlines and links are mostly UK-based, but the app's content is quite solid.
8. Operation Reach Out (iOS)
Operation Reach Out is an iOS suicide prevention app aimed at veterans and military families. The app is intended to provide support for people having suicidal thoughts as well as friends, family or service members concerned that someone they know might be considering suicide. The app comes with numerous video vignettes offering suicide counseling, dos and dont's when reaching out to a potentially suicidal loved one and a help center with suicide hotlines and other resources.