OC Exec Unveils Suicide Prevention App “Friends Help Friends”

June 11, 2015 Updated: June 23, 2015

Orange County now has a suicide prevention app called “Friends Help Friends” that is meant to provide people contemplating suicide and their friends and family with resources and information on how to know the signs and prevent it. An “app” is software that runs on mobile phones and other devices, providing information and performing tasks.

“People with mental health issues can feel isolated and alone. They need to know that Orange County offers a variety of different resources,” said Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhause in a statement.

Veterans have a 50 percent higher chance of committing suicide.

The app offers advice like, “Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings,” but it cautions that the app does not replace seeking professional help.

“Friends Help Friends”, which is free to download on both Apple and Android devices, follows Ulster County’s SPEAK app unveiled last year, which stands for Suicide Prevention and Education Awareness Kit.

While the app is a general resource, it may be especially useful for veterans and millennials in the 15-24 year age range.

Veterans have a 50 percent higher chance of committing suicide than non-veterans according to data from 2009, and within the 15-24 year age bracket, it is the second leading cause of death, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nationally, it is the 10th leading cause of death.

Veterans Service Agency Director Christian Farrell said in a statement that it is an important resource for all veterans.

“You might think it’s the Afghanistan or Iraqi veteran that is more likely to commit suicide, but all veterans of war are susceptible,” Farrell said. “They are growing older, perhaps, they are disabled. It’s an across the board problem.”

The app is also available in Spanish and can be downloaded by going to the iTunes or the Google Play website and searching “Orange County NY.”

To talk to a trained counselor or to connect with local resources, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Orange County helpline at 1-800-832-1200.

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