March 31, 2023

Nebraska group’s app goals to cut back youth suicides | Well being and Health

It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has led to extra psychological well being points, particularly amongst youth.

Suicide was already the second-leading reason for demise amongst Nebraskans ages 15-24, and the disruption attributable to the pandemic has led to a rise in psychological well being points and suicide makes an attempt amongst even youthful teenagers and kids.

“We have seen rises within the variety of youngsters and teenagers presenting with suicide makes an attempt, despair and anxiousness,” mentioned Chanda Chacon, president and CEO of Kids’s Hospital and Medical Heart in Omaha.

Chacon mentioned emergency room visits at Kids’s for psychological well being points rose 27% in children ages 5-11 and 31% in children ages 12-17 from April 2019 to October 2020. And within the first half of 2021, situations of self hurt rose 45% for teenagers ages 5-17.

She additionally mentioned analysis has proven that the general proportion of youngsters experiencing psychological well being points has risen from about 20% earlier than the pandemic to about 25% now.

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“COVID-19 has actually disrupted lives in a means that has taken an influence on their social and emotional and psychological well being,” Chacon mentioned.

The numbers definitely present the necessity for extra intervention to assist youths with psychological well being situations, and a Nebraska group hopes its new app can present that assist, particularly with regards to stopping suicides among the many state’s younger folks.

The Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition final week introduced the discharge of a brand new app known as My Companion, which is designed to assist younger folks address psychological well being points and forestall suicide.

My Companion has a wide range of options divided into 4 main tabs: reflections, connections, assets and emergency. Customers will be capable to log every day reflections, enter contacts who could possibly be reached in an emergency, entry assets, submit nameless ideas and simply attain hotlines.

“The appliance permits youth to speak their emotions in a journal-like format and to create a help system and disaster system, together with warning indicators of suicide and entry to emergency assets,” mentioned Dr. Dave Miers, founding father of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition and director of behavioral well being companies at Bryan Medical Heart.

Work on My Companion truly started properly earlier than the pandemic, in July 2018. It was created by Lincoln-based Don’t Panic Labs in collaboration with Boys City Nationwide Hotline. The app was modeled after the same app launched in Utah underneath the title SafeUT.

In response to the 2020 SafeUT annual report, greater than 800,000 college students accessed the app between August 2019 and Might 2020, which resulted in additional than 500 lifesaving interventions. The creators of My Companion mentioned they hope to see related success in Nebraska.

“Suicide is preventable and there may be hope, there may be assist and there are assets,” Miers mentioned. “This app is an effective way for youth to work together in a constructive, wholesome means and have this useful resource accessible if wanted. Connectedness saves lives and this app will make a distinction.”

The My Companion app is accessible from each the Apple App Retailer and Google Play.

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