It’s literally designed to save lives.
By Brittney McNamara
Asking for help is hard. But creators of a new app, Mind Me, are hoping to make it a little easier for people considering suicide. According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people across the globe commit suicide each year, and many more attempt it. While suicide is often preventable through treatment, care, and awareness, people considering suicide don’t always have access to the help they need.
MindMe wants to change that, by putting those resources right on your phone. Because people can’t always get necessary care at the exact moments they need it, MindMe will aggregate coping strategies and recommendations from a person’s therapist in the app so the user can access them at any time. In its beta stages, the app is not meant to replace a therapist, but to be used alongside one to fill the gaps.
App researcher David Putrino, Ph.D, director of telemedicine and virtual rehabilitation at Burke Medical Research Institute, told BuzzFeed Health the in-person professionals will develop specific strategies for someone at-risk of attempting suicide. When feelings of suicide pop up, the person can look back at the strategies on their phone for an in-the-moment reminder of how to suppress them.
“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,” Putrino said.
When the trigger occurs, MindMe might show the user a video message from their therapist, give them emergency contact numbers, or suggest playing a phone game. Basically, the app might suggest anything that has been helpful to that specific person in the past. It also lets users log triggers and emotions to help their therapist track their progress.
Some similar apps exist, but MindMe researchers say they mostly provide generic tips, not ones tailored for the user. By using the app in tandem with a therapist and logging daily feelings, the researchers behind the app hope it will lead to fewer suicides and better mental health care. To get there, though, they need some money. MindMe has a crowd funding page hoping to raise $100,000 to take the app to a larger stage of clinical trials.
“We really can’t stress enough how rapidly we need to roll out this solution so it can start helping people immediately,” Putrino told BuzzFeed.
On Wednesday morning, the app had raised $16,785. For Anna Smeragliuolo, one of the minds behind the app, this isn’t about business, it’s personal.
“I want people to know [suicide] is not a problem you can foresee with any one particular type of behavior or personality. Mostly, I want people to know it’s real,” she told BuzzFeed. She recently lost her father to suicide.
“My father worked in mental health and behavioral services,” she says. “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.”
If you or someone you know is in danger of harming themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1 (800) 273-8255.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors. If the thoughts of suicide are current, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or call 911 right away.