Health Minister Edwin Poots has voiced his support for a new app designed to tackle Northern Ireland’s high suicide rate.
‘Here2Help’, which was officially launched at Stormont last week, was developed by Carrick men Noel McKee and Jack Creighton.
Once downloaded, the free tool provides instant access to crisis helplines with two taps on a smartphone.
It is designed for emergency situations when someone is in need of immediate crisis support or for friends, families or even strangers, who are faced with the dilemma of assisting someone in crisis.
Mr Poots said: “It has been recognised for some time that in our drive against suicide we need to be more proactive in making use of the latest technology and social media.
“Thankfully, this is starting to happen and Here2Help is another step forward in this direction. The app is a valuable tool in making our communities aware of the help that is available to them and can quickly connect people to the relevant services available in their community; thereby preventing further suicidal behaviour.
“Apps such as this are particularly useful in reaching young people who frequently use technology from a young age and as a main means of communication, so it is vital that they have access to these resources. A child’s journey into adolescence is starting earlier and finishing later than in previous generations.
“Consequently young people are experiencing many of the personal and social pressures that adolescence brings at a much younger age. With increasing disconnectedness in our society, many young people are left feeling isolated in their attempts to cope with emotional turmoil. Apps have a vital role to play in connecting our young people with available resources and services quickly if required.”
Here2Help also provides advice and can direct users to support agencies for a wide variety of issues including debt, abuse and drugs.
The App is available to download on smartphones, free of charge, from the Google Play and Apple stores by searching for Here2Help.