New App Aims to Increase Access to Suicide-Prevention Resources

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has launched a smartphone app that helps connect users to local mental-health resources.

On average, three people die by suicide each day in Tennessee. It also is the second-leading cause of death for children and teens in the state, according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s latest “Status of Suicide” report.

Joanne Perley, who leads statewide initiatives for the organization, said the app is part of an effort to de-stigmatize suicide and make information on warning signs, hotline numbers and suicide-prevention training easily accessible.

“The intention of this app is to have local resources available to everyone,” she said. “We’ve all got a phone now. To be able to click a few buttons, and know that, ‘Hey, I need to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number’ – this is that phone number.”

Perley said a sense of shame surrounding suicide and mental illness sometimes may result in family members claiming a suicide death was accidental or from natural causes. However, she noted that as the stigma lessens, more suicide deaths are being identified correctly. Tennessee’s suicide rates are highest among white males in midlife. In app stores, look under the initials TSPN to find the app.

Perley said groups such as hers are always seeking new ways to help people who may be having thoughts of ending their lives.

“Gov. (Bill) Lee has put a lot of focus on suicide prevention and mental health,” she said. “But despite that, the numbers keep increasing. So, we keep working to reduce those numbers – that’s always the ultimate goal – but working towards prevention in different ways as well.”

It’s been documented that suicides increase during tough economic times, including recessions. A 2012 study found the U.S. suicide rate increased four times faster between 2008 and 2010 than it did in the eight years prior to the recession.

In 2008, suicide officially entered the top 10 leading causes of death by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has remained there ever since.

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