Stay Alive App

On World Suicide Prevention Day 2014, Grassroots Suicide Prevention launched the UK’s first suicide prevention app, Stay Alive. Grassroots designed and developed the content, with funding support from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Network Rail and the developers, Switchplane.

“I have a safety plan in place. #1 on the list: I will not hurt myself. #depression”

Anonymous, via Twitter

The app is totally free to users and offers help and support both to people with thoughts of suicide and to people concerned about someone else. Most of the content is viewable offline, and parts of the app can be customised by the user to suit their personal needs. Key features include:

  • Quick access to national crisis support helplines
  • Quick access to local crisis services in Brighton & Hove and Sussex (additional local/regional crisis services will be added as other mental health trusts/public health departments buy a license for the app – see below)
  • A mini-safety plan that can be filled out by a person considering suicide
  • A LifeBox to which the user can upload photos from their phone reminding them of their reasons to stay alive
  • Strategies for staying safe from suicide
  • How to help a person thinking about suicide
  • Suicide myth-busting
  • Research-based reasons for living
  • Online support services and other helpful apps
  • Suicide bereavement resources

“This weekend I found the online support list and the keeping safe for now section helpful and made me feel less lonely. Unlike so many mental health apps yours is not patronising and doesn't claim to 'fix' anyone. No app will ever be able to fix me but yours kept me company during a very long, dark weekend. Thank you for that.”

Anonymous, via Facebook

Grassroots consulted widely on the content of the app, holding local focus groups with young people with mental health problems, LGBTQ adults with mental health problems, and a team of mental health professionals. Grassroots also consulted with the membership of TASC (The Alliance of Suicide Prevention Charities) and held an online survey with 340 respondents. Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust clinicians also reviewed and approved the content.

Sample screenshots of Stay Alive smartphone application

Apple App Store Google Play

“Aside from Breathing exercises, grounding techniques and lots of useful tips and contacts, it has a section called 'My Life-box'. Here I can add pictures that remind me of my reasons to stay alive. I uploaded a funny photo of Si, one of my Mum and Dad celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and one of Saagar and I, happy together. This is the next best thing to a friend sitting with me, holding my hand when I am down and out.”

Sangeeta Mahajan, on her blog.

Key successes and achievements:

  • Over 16,000 total downloads
  • Great ratings on Google Play and Apple’s App Store
  • Winner of a national Patient Safety Award for Using Technology and IT to improve Patient Safety
  • Winner of an Innovation Award from the Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • National media attention including a small piece in The Times, an article on the BBC website, features in the Metro newspaper and a piece on BBC South East
  • Called ‘the world’s best suicide prevention app’ by the well-known @unsuicide Twitter account
  • Included as a National Inspiration on the Crisis Care Concordat website

“[The app helped me help someone else to stay alive] by introducing and making clear the option of 'stay safe for now'. This was so helpful for the young person I was working with who felt as if she had no choice other than to try and kill herself given how hopeless she felt.”

Anonymous, via online survey

Stay Alive in professional settings

  • The app is included on mental health patients’ discharge paperwork at Brighton & Hove and Haywards Heath Accident and Emergency Departments
  • The app is pre-installed on a number of counselling service waiting room tablets
  • Sussex Police promote the app to staff on their intranet and also to community members on their public-facing website
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust promote the app to their staff and service users
  • A wide range of mental health practitioners (both clinical and non-clinical) and therapists are using the app in and/or between sessions with their patients and clients

“Just downloaded and looked through your Stay Alive app which is excellent (I’m a GP putting together information resources to give out to patients who may be at risk of suicide). It’s really, really good and I’m so impressed, particularly by ability to add photos from camera roll.”

Dr Helen Ashdown GP, May 2016

Stay Alive’s future

Grassroots’ vision for Stay Alive is that it continues to evolve and be available, free of charge, to as many people as possible.

Grassroots is committed to developing Stay Alive as a truly national app that incorporates local and regional crisis resources for people at risk of suicide.

A license for the app will be marketed to partners across England initially, and then the rest of the UK, so that NHS Trusts, local authorities and others can advertise their local crisis provision to end users in their areas. Greater Manchester Public Health and 2Gether mental health trust are already involved and it is hoped that many others will follow suit and help the app improve crisis care pathways for more and more people with thoughts of suicide. For details contact office@prevent-suicide.org.uk

Grassroots is launching a crowdfunding campaign on World Suicide Prevention Day 2016 to secure funds to help make this the best, most powerful lifesaving app it can be. Priorities include:

  • To allow users to send an alert to chosen contacts if they need help
  • To develop the LifeBox into more of an 'emotional first aid kit', allowing users to play music playlists and to record/store video content e.g. messages from user to themselves, or from loved ones/healthcare workers
  • To develop more streamlined software allowing more licensees to include their life-saving local and regional services on the app

In time, there is potential for Stay Alive to be adopted for use in other countries.

Watch this space for a full evaluation of the app!

A life saving story…

“I have had the Stay Alive app on my phone for many months, I keep my safety plan updated on it and have read a lot of the content. This has been incredibly helpful for me, but it is in the event of crisis that I have found the app most useful.

A few months ago I found myself in a position where my thoughts of suicide were so strong and prominent, that I needed immediate help to avoid another suicide attempt. In previous moments like this I have not known where to turn for help and have instead begun turning suicide plans into actions.

Fortunately, when I was trying to think if there were options other than suicide open to me, I remembered that I have the app and that it might help. I was able to immediately dial through to a helpline using the crisis resources on the “find help now” section of the app and they were able to support me and keep me safe in the short term, until further help could be reached. They were also able to help friends look after me.

I think perhaps without the app and its ability to help me to find help, strong suicidal thoughts would have become another suicide attempt. I believe that it is a unique resource which I carry with me everywhere I go, which gives it an unbelievable scope to help.”

Brighton resident

Apple App Store Google Play

Grassroots is recruiting a Chief Executive

Grassroots will be entering a new exciting phase, building on the successes of the last 10 years. To take this forward the Board of Trustees of Grassroots will be recruiting a new Chief Executive. Click here for further information.

After 11 years working with Grassroots our current CEO Miranda Frost will be leaving the organisation at the end of 2016.

Miranda said:
"When I, Chris, Suzie and Jenny set up a CIC in January 2006 I don't think we could have imagined the scope, extent and impact of the work Grassroots has achieved. Looking back over the last decade I'd like to think that Grassroots has developed a reputation for integrity, innovation and achievement in the field of suicide prevention that is not only local, but national (and indeed international), and it has been an honour to be part of this. For me personally 2017 will be a year of new challenges, I wish Grassroots all the best for the future! I'd like to thank everyone I've worked with during this time, the team, in partner organisations, and in the wider community. Suicide prevention work is of course often moving and poignant, and I feel privileged to have been touched by so many others’ inspiring contributions."

Rah Bray, Chair of Grassroots Suicide Prevention said:
"The trustees of Grassroots would like to express their unequivocal gratitude to Miranda. She has worked tirelessly and led the charity with integrity and vision. Grassroots has an excellent reputation, and highly regarded products and services. We have a very positive future because of the strong foundations Miranda has laid. We wish her every success in her new ventures."

# Stay Alive

A mobile app for those at risk of suicide and people worried about someone.

Android App on Google play
Available on the App Store
 
Patient Safety Awards Winner, 2015

Responding to the launch of the Stay Alive app Emma Wadey, Director of Nursing Standards and Safety at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"Suicide is everyone's business; it devastates so many lives no matter who you are, where you work or where you live. We want to use every method available to us to make Sussex, and beyond, a place where people thinking about suicide are supported and helped in their workplace and their community."

Thank you to all our clients and funders, including

  • Big Lottery Fund
  • NHS Brighton and Hove
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Department of Health
  • Sussex Community Foundation
  • Lloyds Bank
 
  • Brighton & Hove City Council
  • East Sussex County Council
  • West Sussex County Council
  • Ealing
  • Surrey County Council
  • YMCA
  • Royal Navy
  • Crime Reduction Initiatives