A new smartphone app released last month is to provide a lifeline for those in crisis by putting them in touch with support agencies.
The suicide prevention app Here2help, which is available to buy on the Apple and Google Play stores, was developed by local men Noel McKee and Jack Creighton.
The software carries a direct link to a number of support organisations including Lifeline, Childline, Women’s Aid, the Samaritans, the Simon Community and FASA (Forum For Action On Substance Abuse).
Details of the free app were outlined to members of the public at a meeting of Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership on Thursday evening.
Whitehead man Noel, who runs a counselling service based at Kilroot, said the idea for the app came about after a number of deaths by suicide in the local area.
He explained: “Myself and Jack wanted to do something about this; we talked about all the usual things like a leaflet drop or handing out cards, but we realised there was actually a real need for a crisis support app.
“We had a look and couldn’t find anything similar already available, so we came up with the idea of an app that would directly contact the agencies for you.
“The idea is that if you are in a crisis and need help, you aren’t going to go looking for a card or a leaflet; you need something that’s very accessible and quick to get you help.”
The software is designed to directly dial the chosen support agency through the touch of a button, with a separate button linking users to a community directory for further support through agencies such as the NSPCC or Cruse Bereavement Care.
Here2help was financed entirely through a number of fundraising events held at Ownies bar in Carrickfergus over the past year.
Although it is due to be officially launched at a Stormont event in May, the app has already seen hundreds of downloads since it went live at the beginning of February.
“What we need now is to start getting feedback and spread the word so that we get thousands of people to download the app.
“We want people to have it on their phones in case they or someone else needs it. The next step after that will be to create an online library of support services,” Noel added.
“I deal quite a lot with survivors of suicide; that is, the people and families who are left behind who are often dealing with so much guilt and heartache.
“Essentially this is a suicide prevention app and although the suicide rate in Carrickfergus is not as high as it is in some other areas of Northern Ireland, even one suicide is one too many.”
Speaking after last Thursday night’s meeting, PCSP chair Councillor Andrew Wilson said the app was a “valuable tool” in making the community aware of what help is available to them.