Everything is going digital these days, especially since Covid-19 turned all our lives upside down. But the last 18 months have been really tough for many people and our concerns at Suicide Prevention North Lanarkshire about people feeling more suicidal have become more acute. The isolation, the lack of structure in people’s daily lives, being out of work or working from home – it can all be overwhelming.
We had already been thinking about an app but lockdown prompted the two Lanarkshire local authorities to get their heads together and really focus on launching a handy smartphone app to give people easy access to practical support – suitable for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or who may be worried about friends or loved ones.
We wanted to create something which could really make a difference to those who are vulnerable and give them access to a range of advice at their fingertips. An app seemed the best way forward as we do almost everything else on our phones these days, so to have something accessible at the touch of a phone screen just made sense.
But this wasn’t just about ticking a box, this had to be something that could provide the right help when it was most needed. Local authorities have a crucial role to play in helping to support everyone in our communities, especially those who are struggling.
The Suicide Prevention app goes beyond reaching just the people thinking about suicide themselves because crucially, we need to try and educate everyone and encourage more conversations about the topic. It’s always been a taboo subject, whispered or not spoken about at all. We need to change that, we need people to talk openly about their worries, fears and concerns and let them know that help and support is available.
Our app is for everyone, it provides details about training and awareness sessions, facts, and myths around suicide. Along with advice surrounding how to start the conversation about having suicidal thoughts and how to access crucial support helplines, along with so much more. In my role as a Suicide Prevention Officer, I regularly come into contact with a range of people who find this subject difficult to talk about. It would surprise many people to know the amount and the range of people that think about suicide or worry about someone who is suicidal.
Suicide can affect anyone. I’m currently working in partnership with two high-risk and hard-to-reach groups of care-experienced young people and those who are homeless. We are working on activities to address suicidal thoughts among these particular groups but we also know that anyone can experience suicidal thoughts, regardless of your situation. The important thing is share that talking can help.
This app has our main campaign – ‘Let’s Talk’ – message on it and we want to get this across to encourage people to talk more openly about suicide so that we can all work together to help prevent it. We need to keep raising awareness across both council areas to try and stop the devastating emotional impact on families, friends and communities bereaved by suicide and the awful long-lasting effect it has on those left behind.
If someone you are close to shows signs of not being themselves, when changes in their behaviour begin to worry you, it is vital you take action. The app gives guidance to help you deal with difficult situations and tells you about the support available.
We want everyone to know that support is out there and to encourage people to talk openly. It might seem like just another image on a phone screen, but it could really help save someone’s life.
The Suicide Prevention app has been created in partnership with both North and South Lanarkshire Councils and can be downloaded from your mobile device app store by searching for SP Lanarkshire.