Grassroots, a Brighton mental health charity, has developed what is believed to be the first suicide prevention free mobile phone app called StayAlive.
The charity aims to raise £20,000 to improve vital support for vulnerable people at risk of taking their lives.
It launched its crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds on World Suicide Prevention Day 2016 today (Saturday 10 September) at the Synergy Centre, in West Street, Brighton.
Brighton and Hove has had a higher rate of deaths by suicide than the national average for more than a century and is currently ranked 136 of 144 local authorities for suicide rates.
Councillor Dick Page, the Green Party’s spokesman for health and wellbeing at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “While we as councillors have a duty to ensure support is maintained to keep people safe from self-harm, abuse and neglect, we are increasingly reliant on the ground-breaking and practical work of Grassroots.
“As individuals we all must share responsibility for recognising and responding to our fellow residents who may be in need of help. A friendly word or show of support is free, yet can sometimes make all the difference to people going through a difficult time.”
StayAlive is a free, nationwide pocket resource on your mobile phone, packed with useful information to help people at risk of suicide and anyone who knows someone at risk of suicide. It includes
- My Safety Plan that is an advance agreement of steps to take if you become unwell
- My Lifebox full of photographs of family and friends
- Reasons for living and self-help ideas – this is about what works for you
- Looking after yourself which is about having compassion for yourself, knowing when to stop and checking you are not over-tired or hungry
- Where to find help in your local area including counselling
- Breathing exercises and grounding techniques
Grassroots chief executive Miranda Frost said: “Our vision is that no one has to contemplate suicide alone. The app is a big part of giving a lifeline to those at risk of suicide. With your help and donations StayAlive can become more effective and will help even more people at risk. It’s quick and easy to donate essential funds. You’re just a few clicks away from saving a life.”
A recent survey of StayAlive suggested that 76 per cent of users who have used the app used it to help someone else stay safe from suicide. The survey indicated that its most useful feature was the “safety plan”.
Since its release in 2014, the app has been downloaded more than 16,000 times, won multiple awards and has been included as a “national inspiration” on the Crisis Concordat website.
StayAlive is available in app stores. It is currently a private, personal and portable resource but the next phase of its development may allow app users to connect with others and share experiences.
The council’s lead member for mental health, Councillor Caroline Penn, said: “The StayAlive app developed by Grassroots plays a very important role in suicide prevention. It provides immediate support for those considering suicide as well as advice for those concerned about a friend or family member.
“We can all play our part in supporting those experiencing suicidal thoughts. If we talk and most importantly listen, we can work together to keep our friends, family and community safe.”
Grassroots Suicide Prevention teaches suicide alertness and intervention skills to community members and professionals with the aim to make our communities safer from suicide. The charity is supported by the council.
To find out more about how to donate to help fund the app, click here.
Councillor Penn said that anyone who was worried about someone they know could download the StayAlive app to a private device, call the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or the Mental Health Rapid Response Service on 01273 242220. Both telephone lines are available 24 hours a day.
Other mental health charities include MIND and Brighton and Hove Carers Centre.