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Stigma, suicide and the Stay Alive app: Emma’s story

At Grassroots Suicide Prevention, our work all points towards one goal; a future where more lives are saved from suicide.

We hope that hearing stories from real people who have used our services and resources will help others to reach out and find the help they need.  Emma used Stay Alive to remind her how valuable her life is, you can read about her experience below. 

The Stay Alive app is a pocket suicide prevention resource that is filled with useful information and tools to help you stay safe. You can use it if you are having thoughts of suicide or if you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide.

In addition to the resources, the app can be something to turn to when looking for reminders to keep going. It includes a safety plan, customisable reasons for living, and a LifeBox where you can store photos that are important to you.

Emma’s story

I am 40 years old and have a long history of poor mental health including suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. At my most unwell, the Stay Alive app didn’t exist. It is only in the past couple of years that I have started to use it. Stay Alive is, in my view, by far the best free mental health app that I have come across, and I think it could benefit other people too. That’s why I have decided to start ‘shouting about it’ through this blog.

“Stay Alive has helped prevent me from reaching crisis point”

Personally, I have never been in crisis when using the app. But Stay Alive has helped prevent me from reaching crisis point, and to keep ‘well / well enough’. It helps remind me that I am loved and valuable as a human being. In this way, Stay Alive is preventative and protective of my mental health as it enables me to recognise my worth and reasons for living.

The function I use most is the digital ‘LifeBox’ which I use when I’m feeling a bit low to look at my stored photos and videos that remind me of my reasons for living. I also take great comfort in knowing that I have a safety plan that I have shared with the person who I would contact if I ever did become suicidal again.

I also really appreciate the fact that this app is free to download and is not ‘medical’ or connected to my GP or to any health or emergency services, as this enables me to feel secure and trusted to stay well by myself. Stay Alive is confidential and can be accessed when I have no internet on my phone, so it is always there with me.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realise that I like every feature of Stay Alive!

“I’m not ashamed of my exercise app – why should I be ashamed of an app to help my mental health?”

The only potential downside that I have experienced with the app is stigma. In particular, self-stigma about having a suicide prevention app visible on my phone screen. I used to worry that someone seeing the app on my phone may lead them to potentially make negative assumptions about me and the status of my mental health, or to become unnecessarily worried about me, and that this could be to my detriment.

In reality, most people don’t even look at my phone, let alone scrutinise the apps I use. In fact, the people that I’ve chosen to show Stay Alive to think it is fantastic, and some have even downloaded it for themselves. I think communication is key – I know that the app helps to keep me well and that is what I tell the people closest to me. I have no problems with telling people that I use an exercise app to help with my physical health, so why should I be ashamed of an app to help my mental health?

I find it quite difficult to put into words just how brilliant the Stay Alive app is, so I recommend that you take a look for yourself. Stay Alive is for everyone, not just for those of us with suicidal thoughts – who wouldn’t get comfort from reminding themselves, via using the app, that their life is worth living?

We are so grateful to Emma for sharing her story. If you would also like to share your story about using one of our resources, we would love to hear about it and use your experience to help inspire others. 

If you need support, or would like to offer that support someone else, you can download the app as a resource to turn to whenever you may need it. 

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Did you know 1 in 5 people will have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives?

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