Public-facing apps for suicide prevention

Grassroots Suicide Prevention Case Study:
iOS and Android apps for suicide prevention resources and features

"End users are using [the app] to stay safe from suicide, so that is the number one aim accomplished."

Project Overview

Services Provided

iOS app, Android app, web-based database for updates to service providers, consultancy

A little bit about Grassroots Suicide Prevention

Grassroots Suicide Prevention is an award-winning suicide prevention charity based in Brighton. They train people on practical steps to help people become better prepared and equipped to help someone in difficulty with suicide, mental health, and self-harm, and, through using the app, have compiled an extensive database of national and local support services for people to ‘Find Help Now’.

The Solution

Grassroots Suicide Prevention approached Switchplane in 2013, at a time when there were no apps or online resources for suicide prevention in the UK. Switchplane helped to plan and shape the app, suggesting tools and tips that the charity hadn’t previously considered, to enable the knowledge shared in real-world training sessions to be available in a free and accessible application for anyone to access. Switchplane therefore developed iOS and Android applications on behalf of the charity to be used by those who are having thoughts of suicide or who are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.

The StayAlive app is packed full of useful information and tools to help users stay safe in crisis. As well as the numerous national and local resources available, the app includes customisable elements including a Safety Plan, Wellness Plan, Reasons for Living, and a LifeBox, where users can store important photos and memories. There are also strategies for staying safe, staying grounded, and exercises to help with guided breathing. Feedback from app users has been consistently positive; people have used it when in crisis and say it is literally life-saving.

Thanks to further funding, a new version of the app has been released in summer 2020 which enables users to access the resources and features from a web view, and to sync their information between devices, should users choose to create an account. The app still supports offline access purely on the app for those who need this.

‘Find Help Now’ feature

This feature on the StayAlive app comprises of local and national suicide prevention and mental health resources. Users can navigate to the resources which are closest to them, and they can find details on the types of services provided, before contacting the appropriate resource. Not only does this provide essential information to users, but it also allows the charity to generate income to maintain the app by running a licensee model.

"We love working with charities who want to invest in digital, so we're really pleased to be able to support Grassroots in bringing this refreshed suicide prevention tool to a wider audience."

LifeBox

The LifeBox provides an area within the app for users to store memories which may help them in times of crisis. This section has been upgraded in the updated app to include functionality for video and audio storage in addition to photos, together with the ability to sync this information with another device so that the valuable memories can always be on hand.

Wellness Plan and Safety Plan

The Wellness Plan enables users to select options, or add their own ideas, for actions to take in order to maintain feelings of wellness. The Safety Plan provides a customisable emergency plan of what to do if the user feels they cannot stay safe from suicide. The 2020 upgrade includes this section in the web-based version of the app, so users can log in and download their plans in order to share these with medical providers, who often use the app in their clinics.

Reasons for Living

The Reasons for Living section on the app offers prompts to select various statements under the headings of Family and Friends, Understanding my Choices, and Hopes and Beliefs, which can serve as useful reminders for those in crisis. It’s also possible for a user to add their own reasons and, like the Wellness and Safety plans, in the 2020 upgrade users can share this information with medical providers from a web-based view.

App website front end design

To accompany the recent app upgrades, Switchplane has worked on a website front end view for the resources and plans, which make this vital information accessible from any device. The designs are clean and modern, and this web-based view allows users to sync their information from the app - even when upgrading from the previous version of the app which did not previously allow for accounts. This enables the resources to be available to more users across the UK and further afield.

Multi-language app support

Thanks to additional funding in 2019, it was possible to source translations and provide this valuable StayAlive resource in Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Work was carried out on the apps to support additional languages and to run the appropriate language based on the language configured on the device.

Data management

Given the sensitive nature of the topic, detailed consideration of what happens to all data has taken place, together with a review of threats and measures to counter these. Switchplane has provided support with technical requirement specifications in order to assist with the NHS-approval process.

“[The app] has enabled us to reach people across the UK and wider. [...] From feedback, we’ve heard that end users are using it to stay safe from suicide, so that is the number one aim accomplished.”

Tiffany Ansari talks about working with Switchplane on the StayAlive app.
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