The Highlands has recorded an ‘upwards’ trend in the usage of a suicide prevention app, which is in its fifth year since launch.

Eighty new users per month are accessing the Prevent Suicide Highland smartphone app, as a local doctor warned that suicide is the biggest killer for young people in the region.

More than 4,000 people have now used the app since its launch in 2018, according to health officials, with an average of 66 users per month until the last year when figures trended up.

The rise in the last 12 months represents a 21 per cent increase in the numbers of people accessing the platform compared to previous years.

Siobhan Leen, health improvement specialist at NHS Highland, said: “Since the launch of Prevent Suicide Highland app five years ago, just over 4,000 people have accessed or installed the app. This figure does not count return users of the app, only newly installed and accessed apps, so usage of the Prevent Highland App will be higher.

“It is very important to keep promoting that the Prevent Suicide Highland app is available to anyone who may need it, this can include someone in distress, a family member or loved one, or practitioners working in Highland communities.”

In the past year there have been 955 new users, which works out at 80 new users a month for the past 12 months, compared with an average of 66 new users a month over the past 60 months. So there is an upward trend in usage. The app is reviewed four times a year, so information is kept updated.

Dr James Douglas, an NHS Highland GP based in Fort William, said:   “Unfortunately distressed young people completing suicide has become a tragic problem for many families and communities in Highland. It is now the biggest cause of death in young people in Highland. We have been using the Prevent Suicide App in Fort William and have found it a useful tool to engage young people in distress. They download the app to their phone and it has all the advice and helplines in one place for them. They can set out their worries in private and then discuss them with their GP or mental health team. We are very keen to spread awareness of the Prevent Suicide App to young people in distress, families, friends, GPs, A&E staff and mental health teams.”

The app launched in 2018 as a Highland Community Planning Partnership initiative to provide information and support to communities in Highland. The concept of the Prevent Suicide Highland app was developed following positive evaluation and experiences in other areas of Scotland. 

Prevent Suicide Highland App includes a safety planning element which can be completed with the help of support in situations where people are feeling distressed or suicidal.  A safety plan is a tool for helping someone when their feelings and urges become overwhelming. 

Each safety plan is individual to the person, and it includes people to contact, personal warning signs, and reasons to live. Suicide is complex, and often multifactorial. The app provides information and contacts for a wide variety of services around the wider determinants of suicidal distress e.g. money worries, gambling, bullying, drug and alcohol support. 

Prevent Suicide Highland App also includes guidance on what members of the public can do to help someone who is feeling suicidal. It includes information and support to have conversations if someone is distressed or suicidal, signs to look out for and how you can help.

Losing someone to suicide can cause overwhelming shock and grief and can continue long after a loss. Prevent Suicide Highland App includes information and support for those who have been bereaved by suicide.  

The Prevent suicide is free and is available for both Android and iPhone. For convenience, please use the QR codes to download the app.

For Android users:

For Apple users: