Government and Regulations

“Suicide Safe” Mobile App Fills a Gap

This free mobile application offers health care providers guidance on assessing a patient's condition quickly and comprehensively.


 

Almost half of those who commit suicide visit a primary care provider in the month prior to their death, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). But many health care providers are not trained to assess and manage potentially suicidal patients. SAMHSA aims to change that with a free mobile application, “Suicide Safe,” based on SAMHSA’s Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T). The app offers guidance on assessing the patient’s condition quickly and comprehensively. Users can get help with determining whether the patient is in crisis and how to decide what the best next steps are. Key features include SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, patient education materials, and conversation starters for talking with patients about suicidal ideation.

Related: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The new app is apparently quickly filling a gap—it was reportedly downloaded 12,500 times in the first week after it was launched in early March. The app is proving popular because it was designed with busy primary practices in mind, keeping it as “seamless and efficient as possible,” according to Richard T. McKeon, PhD, MPH, chief of the Suicide Prevention Branch at SAMHSA.

Related: Helping Native Communities Strengthen Mental Health Programs

One group of practitioners in particular may welcome the app. Although the suicide rate in the U.S. is high (the second leading cause of preventable death among people aged 10-42 years), suicide is 1.6 times higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives than among all other U.S. populations.

“We are looking forward to the contributions this mobile app will provide to IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health programs,” said Robert G. McSwain, MPA, acting director of the IHS.

Related: SAMHSA Awards Funds for Tribal Youth Programs

One of the downloadable tribal publications accessible through the app is To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults. This guide offers comprehensive suicide prevention planning and addresses what to do in the event of a suicide to help heal and prevent related suicidal behaviors.

The app can be downloaded on Apple and Android mobile devices by clicking here.

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