Suicide is one of the most common causes of death in the United States, named tenth on a list compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 34 and for every death by suicide, there are 25 attempts. Among veterans and active duty military personnel, suicide is the leading cause of death. In a study conducted by the VA in 2015, reports showed that about 20 veterans commit suicide each day. As the stigma against talking about mental health starts to dissipate, more and more organizations are doing their part to help save lives. Mission Zero, a Florida-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, strives to reduce the number of veteran suicides to zero by providing veterans suffering from PTSD with the help they need. Mission Zero also aspires to educate veterans’ families about the disease and ways that they may support their loved ones.
The number of veteran suicides per day has risen 10 percent in the last 10 years. In the same period, the number of civilian suicides per day has risen almost 30 percent. Mission Zero is partnering with JourneyLabs™ to use technology to increase the outreach of their programs for veterans and their families. The founders of Mission Zero, Danielle and Jose Belen, have had their own personal experience with PTSD, as Jose suffered for years after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2005. Jose and Danielle are using what they learned from their personal experiences to help other veterans before it’s too late. Using the journey management platform, Mission Zero is pairing veterans who are suffering from PTSD and suicidal ideation with veterans who have been in their shoes and want to help. In results from local focus groups with veterans who have attempted suicide, participants verbalized that the likelihood of loved ones or friends missing them is what drove them away from committing suicide. Using this information, the Belens believe that keeping veterans in crisis connected to other people, even while they aren’t physically around others, can help save lives. “The success of our mission would depend on finding a platform with the ability to virtualize our interactions and create a safe space for relationships to thrive. In the absence of physical presence, one still feels connected,” says Danielle Belen.
Using technology to extend communication and expand outreach during crucial times, the JourneyLabs™ journey management platform can be utilized in various ways to assist high-risk mental health patients. Doctors and organizations alike can track patient symptoms and have access to resources and emergency services within the platform should participants need them. Participants can use a mobile app designed to interact with them daily so that symptoms don’t go unnoticed. Continual connection to others at all times allows participants in crisis to feel that they are not alone.
Faculty affiliated with Brown University Alpert Medical School and the Providence VA Medical Center recently partnered with JourneyLabs to help high-risk veterans with PTSD and suicidal ideation. The veterans are monitored by a protocol created by the hospital on the JourneyLabs™ journey management platform. The study aims to close gaps in communication between veterans and their care providers by allowing the veterans to report what they are feeling in real time without waiting until their next doctor’s appointment. Documentation of risk factors for depression, suicidal ideation and loneliness help tailor responses allowing veterans to receive the necessary interventions within proper timeframes. The software platform’s “Help Now” feature allows emergency services to be notified if the risks are critical enough that a person requires immediate medical intervention. By keeping vulnerable populations connected to their care providers in their times of need, we can help prevent deaths by suicide.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline suggests asking people in emotional crisis in a caring way if they are contemplating suicide. Their campaign, #BeThe1To, encourages others to reach out to those in crisis and let them know that they are not alone. Studies show that inquiring about suicidal ideation actually helps decrease suicide, rather than increase it. There are resources available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org and www.bethe1to.com.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or needs emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline network is free and confidential and available 24/7 across the United States.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454
Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
JourneyLabs™ was founded by former Symantec and VERITAS business and development
executives in September 2015. CEO, Jason Fisher and his co-founders, Narayana Aroori and Mike Ivanov developed the Journey management platform to help organizations with longitudinal consumer relationships that suffer from gaps in engagement, lack of personalization and poor situational responsiveness.Organizations can “hire” Journeys on JourneyLabs’s Software-as-a-Service platform to operationalize complex, knowledge- and interaction-intensive processes to improve participant outcomes and reduce variability. The proprietary cloud and mobile platform optimizes enhanced information collection to enable custom, responsive action as well as long-term relationship analytics.