Published: February 28th, 201Woodbury, NY–MilitaryFamily.com, a website that provides community, guidance and support to military members and their families has developed a free, smartphone app with a very serious yet straightforward mission: to help members of the military overcome feelings of depression and/or PTSD and ultimately to prevent them from taking their own lives.
This free app could potentially have a very real impact on the disturbing numbers of active duty members of the military as well as veterans who have taken their own lives as a result of having served in recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.
Recent reports from the military itself as well as nonprofits and government think-tanks have only served to underscore the tragic numbers of American service members who take their lives each year. A recent report by the Center for a New American Security said that, “Although only 1 percent of Americans have served in the military, former servicemembers represent 20 percent of suicides in the United States.” Armytimes.com has reported that on average, a U.S. servicemember commits suicide every 80 minutes.
This free suicide preventon app dubbed “Operation Reach Out” is for servicemembers who may be depressed, suffering from PTSD or having suicidal thoughts as well as concerned family and friends. Developed via a collaboration of psychologist and internationally recognized expert in emotional resiliency, Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D. and MilitaryFamily.com, the app is currently offered free for both the iPhone and Android and has five key features including:
- A Help Center where a single touch of the phone will call a friend, family member, or helping professional (including the National Suicide Hotline)
- Video vignettes designed to help people who are depressed see that their problems are solvable and their feelings of desperation will pass
- Video vignettes for people concerned about someone who they believe is suicidal; telling them what they should and should not say
- Suggestions of activities that will help people reach out to someone else rather than suffer alone
- Internet resources including real stories from people who once thought about suicide, but went on to get help
In short, the app brings together many elements of a traditional suicide prevention hotline only it’s connected to a call center where mental health pros have specific knowledge of issues such as PTSD and other combat-related problems that members of our military may encounter while deployed overseas and elsewhere.