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Designing for Human-Centered Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Services: Designing for a state of well-being


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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) close to 800 000 people die to suicide every year. In WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan for 2013-2020, The Member States have committed themselves to work towards the goal of decreasing the suicide rate by 10% by 2020. Norway is one of 38 countries who has a national suicide prevention strategy and aims for this goal. The goal was set when the Norwegian number of deaths to suicide were 550, in 2013. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health released the figures for 2017 showing that the suicide rate had increased with 6,5% instead of the planned decrease. Preventing suicide is a complex and challenging subject. The project research has dived into the different suicide prevention and mental health services offered in Norway. Using the perspective of design mythology, the project aims to highlight problems with the existing services. Building upon user insights and analysis the project creates a framework on how to improve different services by using humancentered design principles. The project uses the created design principles and user insights and applies this to develop new features that are used to redesign the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s mobile phone application, Heia Meg. The outcome is a human-centered application that aims to offer users a unique and personal experience, helping the users of the application achieving daily goals and getting a step closer to a state of well-being.
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Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death and has been recognized as a significant public health issue. Rapid advances in data science can provide us with useful tools for suicide prevention, and help to dynamically assess suicide risk in quantitative data-driven ways. In this article, the authors highlight the most current international research in digital suicide prevention, including the use of machine learning, smartphone applications, and wearable sensor driven systems. The authors also discuss future opportunities for digital suicide prevention, and propose a novel Sensor-driven Mental State Assessment System.
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Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death globally, and there has been a rapid growth in the use of new technologies such as mobile health applications (apps) to help identify and support those at risk. However, it is not known whether these apps are evidence-based, or indeed contain potentially harmful content. This review examines the concordance of features in publicly available apps with current scientific evidence of effective suicide prevention strategies. Methods: Apps referring to suicide or deliberate self-harm (DSH) were identified on the Android and iOS app stores. Systematic review methodology was employed to screen and review app content. App features were labelled using a coding scheme that reflected the broad range of evidence-based medical and population-based suicide prevention interventions. Best-practice for suicide prevention was based upon a World Health Organization report and supplemented by other reviews of the literature. Results: One hundred and twenty-three apps referring to suicide were identified and downloaded for full review, 49 of which were found to contain at least one interactive suicide prevention feature. Most apps focused on obtaining support from friends and family (n = 27) and safety planning (n = 14). Of the different suicide prevention strategies contained within the apps, the strongest evidence in the literature was found for facilitating access to crisis support (n = 13). All reviewed apps contained at least one strategy that was broadly consistent with the evidence base or best-practice guidelines. Apps tended to focus on a single suicide prevention strategy (mean = 1.1), although safety plan apps provided the opportunity to provide a greater number of techniques (mean = 3.9). Potentially harmful content, such as listing lethal access to means or encouraging risky behaviour in a crisis, was also identified. Discussion: Many suicide prevention apps are available, some of which provide elements of best practice, but none that provide comprehensive evidence-based support. Apps with potentially harmful content were also identified. Despite the number of apps available, and their varied purposes, there is a clear need to develop useful, pragmatic, and multifaceted mobile resources for this population. Clinicians should be wary in recommending apps, especially as potentially harmful content can be presented as helpful. Currently safety plan apps are the most comprehensive and evidence-informed, for example, "Safety Net" and "MoodTools-Depression Aid".
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