Health

This Suicide Prevention App Might Actually Be Able To Save Lives

Scientists are raising money for clinical trials to show that it can.

1. Each year, over 800,000 people around the world kill themselves, according to the World Health Organization.

But suicide is preventable.

2. The new app MindMe could give at-risk individuals personalized coping strategies when they might otherwise not reach out for help.

MindMe / Via experiment.com

The app, currently in its beta stages, comes from a collaborative team of mental health, telemedicine, and mobile software experts dedicated to providing at-risk people with possibly lifesaving tools when they need them most.

“We hear from therapists that no matter how carefully they explained strategies to their clients, if someone is inconsolably upset because a trigger occurs, they’re not going to remember what they’ve learned in therapy,” David Putrino, Ph.D., director of telemedicine and virtual rehabilitation at Burke Medical Research Institute, who’s currently working on the app, told BuzzFeed Health.

3. Unlike other mood-tracking and therapeutic apps, MindMe is used in conjunction with a real therapist, providing updates and support between sessions.

MindMe / Via experiment.com

According to Putrino, mental health professionals are needed to identify potential triggers that could lead to someone feeling suicidal so they can develop actually helpful, non-generic strategies that could save their clients’ lives.

4. During times of crisis, the app walks users through exercises, like watching a video pep talk from a therapist or calling emergency contacts.

Courtesy of MindMe

Courtesy of MindMe

 

All the therapeutic exercises, videos, and strategies are preset by a person’s therapist for use in a variety of situations ranging in intensity. Suggestions can be anything from playing a phone game to completing a personalized therapeutic exercise — anything that has proven effective in the past.

5. Users can also log triggers and emotions daily to provide their therapists with updates on their well-being and progress, so therapists in turn can provide more effective support.

MindMe / Via experiment.com

6. Currently, MindMe is yielding some promising results in beta testing, but the team has turned to crowdfunding to raise money for a large clinical trial, with the goal of demonstrating that it can prevent suicide in at-risk populations.

MindMe / Via experiment.com

“We understand that we’re working with a vulnerable population. We’re scientists and we’re trying to develop a solution that actually works before we make it available,” says Putrino.

7. Anna Smeragliuolo, a research fellow on the project who recently lost her father to suicide, hopes that people will see what an invaluable resource it could be for the many people at risk.

Courtesy of MindMe

“My father worked in mental health and behavior services,” she told BuzzFeed Health. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or how happy you appear — no one person is immune to this kind of disease.”

8. At the time of publishing, they have raised $14,750 of their $100,000 goal.

If you are thinking about suicide, talk to someone. You can speak to someone immediately here or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

For more information about suicide prevention, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here and here.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

 
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