iPhone App Introduced to Aid in Military Suicide Prevention

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MilitaryFamily.com gathered a group of experts in emotional resiliency to develop a free app to address the increasing number of suicides among active duty military and veterans.

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Help is just a touch away on their smartphone. - Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., creator of the new military suicide prevention app.

Suicides of active service members as well as veterans are increasing at an alarming rate, many due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent study indicates that, on average, a U.S. veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes. Armytimes.com reports that in fiscal 2009, 1,868 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan succumbed to suicide. In addition, hundreds of active service members take their lives each year.

In response to this heartbreaking trend, MilitaryFamily.com has developed a free suicide prevention app, for the iPhone called Operation Reach Out for people who may be thinking about suicide as well as family and friends concerned about someone else. The app is currently offered free on the iTunes store and an Android version will be available in the next few weeks.

Designed by experts in emotional resiliency., the app has five features:

  •     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.

The primary author of the app is psychologist Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., a well-known author and internationally respected expert on emotional resiliency. When asked how the app works, Dr. Shapiro explains: "The app is designed to help people who are feeling desperate and alone connect with others. Having powerful resources in your pocket or purse is the surest way to help get help when they need it most. The most important thing the app can do is to redirect a suicidal person's downward spiral of hopelessness and isolation. Help is available from many places, and we need to find it as quickly and easily as possible.”

Dr. Shapiro and MilitaryFamily.com President Jonathon Werz are available for phone and in-person interviews. The app can be found on http://www.MilitaryFamily.com, or through the iTunes store. Hi-resolution photos are available for print.


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Danielle Villani
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