Many people feel unprepared to talk to others about suicide. To make matters worse, there is a prevailing misconception that it is best not to engage people in a conversation about suicide as it might encourage them to act. However, research demonstrates that this is simply not true, and people who are considering suicide need and even appreciate direct communication about their feelings.
A new Suicide Lifeguard mobile app developed by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH) and the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) is now available at no cost at the iTunes Store.
Suicide Lifeguard is a FREE app intended for anyone concerned that someone they know may be thinking of suicide. It provides information on:
- How to recognize warning signs of suicide;
- How to ask about suicidal thoughts and/or intentions;
- How to respond; and
- Where to refer someone.
Features of the app include direct, immediate connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, direct access to national and Missouri resource websites, and specific resources for military/veterans, those who identify as LGBTQ, Spanish-speaking individuals, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"I hope that folks who use our app will gain more confidence in their ability to talk to someone who may be having suicidal thoughts," said Joel Epstein, research assistant professor at the MIMH who led the app development team for programming and creative.
The suicide-prevention information included in the app was produced by the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project, a joint effort between the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH). The project was made possible by a grant to the DMH from Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) including a subcontract to UMSL.
The Missouri Suicide Prevention Project creates a statewide youth suicide prevention response using evidence-based practices and grounded in public/private collaboration. The project, administered by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, is independently evaluated by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, a part of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, ensuring the interventions are tailored to the particular needs of Missouri communities.
Under the project, an extensive number of suicide prevention trainings have been conducted across Missouri, many of offer wallet cards or handbooks to participants that provide additional information or reminders about how to help someone who may be suicidal. However, participants often don't keep such resources with them at all times and they may not be available when needed. On the other hand, smartphone users are usually within reach of their phones. So having a mobile phone app that can provide assistance at a person's fingertips is a great way to enhance current training efforts.
The iPhone and iPad app is currently available; the team is working on an Android version now and hope to release it soon.
People involved in the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project through the SAMSHA grant and the subcontract to UMSL include:
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Parks, distinguished research professor
- Project Director: Scott Perkins, project director
- Liz Sale, associate research professor
- Collin Miller, research analyst
- Ginny Weil, project development specialist
- Julie Matthews; research specialist
- App Development:
- Joel Epstein, research assistant professor
- Kelly Gregory, senior multimedia specialist
- Kate Watkins, coordinator, program/project support
The suicide prevention information included in this app was produced by the Missouri Suicide Prevention Project, a joint effort between the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. It was made possible by grant number SM057376 from Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) that included a subcontract to UMSL/MIMH. The views and policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMSHA.