Editorial | New suicide prevention app may have room for improvements
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 23:09
There is a new cell phone app from eReadia LLC available for Miami students in Oxford, Hamilton and Middletown campuses. This new app is part of the suicide prevention program at Miami. The “Just in Case” app provides users with seven options on the home screen, each leading to a separate page filled with links, phone numbers and advice. The app seems to be a convenient resource for students who may struggle with depression and/or other mental health issues. The app even helps those who know someone who is struggling with these issues. The “Just in Case” app is a great demonstration of Miami using the recent Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention grant in a very student-centered way.
Students can feel how tough college can be sometimes, especially the first semester or two. According to the American College Health Association (ACHA) study from 2008, 25.6 percent of college males and 31.7 percent of college females reported feeling “so depressed it’s hard to function” at least once within the year.
The latest national suicide research was done in 2001, which revealed one person dies by suicide about every 18 minutes in the U.S. It is estimated that over 500,000 suicide attempts occur in the U.S. each year, with one attempt made every minute. So, chances are, we’ve all been affected by suicide and/or depression, one way or another.
The Miami Student Editorial Board encourages students and the community to visit the site since it is unique to Miami and has useful numbers and information that could save someone’s life, or your own. You can access this app at http://codo.co/aca32c.
Even though the app is beneficial to students, it still appears to be in the beginning stages of development, and it’s difficult to figure out how to even download the app. Even though it has a QR code, an image that users can scan with their smart phones (see page 1) , it doesn’t appear in the App Store—on either iPhones or Android phones.
The “Just in Case” app is convenient and user friendly, but the Editorial Board of The Miami Student has a few reservations.
We can’t help but notice a typo in the first sentence on the “I might hurt myself…” page. The website looks thrown together, the pictures are pixilated and the URL is way too difficult to remember, especially in an emergency situation. We also agreed that this app is somewhat of a substitution for simply Googling the number for the Counseling Center or The Miami University Police.
Might this be an extra, unnecessary step in getting much-needed help for yourself or a friend in danger?
What we want to see from this app are solutions. So far, we see the creators of this app simply telling users how they feel and giving them a 10-digit number to call.
If someone is seriously considering hurting themselves, they already know how they feel—they don’t need an app to tell them. And we can’t help but think that the majority of users of the “Just in Case” app are probably feeling pretty alone at this point; they need a source of companionship that this app doesn’t seem to provide.
For the time being, it doesn’t offer any personal help from counselors, encouraging memos or a live-chat option with professionals. Sophomore Stephanie Hess sees the benefits of the app but also sees where it could have improvements.
“I think it’s a good step; it’s probably helpful and its good that they have an app, but it could probably be improved to be more personalized,” Hess said.
Another important point came up when Hess was asked to review the “Just In Case” app: Hess doesn’t have a smart phone. She had to borrow one in order to review the app, which may pose a small problem. However, students can access the app on the web.
What the “Just in Case” app does provide is a well-targeted way to reach college students. And since suicide makes up about 12.3 percent of all deaths of Americans age 15-24 years old, this app has a lot of potential to make a big difference in the mental health of college students across Miami’s campus and across America.