SAMHSA: Suicide Safe App
PsyberGuide concentrates on products aimed for consumer use, but we are also interested in supports for providers. One such product, recently released by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is an app for health care providers, mainly primary care clinicians, called Suicide Safe (http://store.samhsa.gov/apps/suicidesafe/). The app is designed to help recognize and begin treatment planning for patients with potential suicidal behavior. The core of the app is the Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation and Triage (SAFE-T) card, which can be downloaded separately (http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA09-4432/SMA09-4432.pdf), and which is widely used in mental health settings. In addition, the app offers a variety of illustrative case studies, tips on interview techniques to handle this sensitive subject, a treatment facility locator, and a training and resource section that contains crisis lines, continuing education resources and other materials.
This is definitely a worthwhile endeavor since, as SAMHSA notes in their announcement, 45% of people that commit suicide have visited a primary care setting in the month prior to the event, as opposed to only 20% that have visited a specialized mental health setting. However, I downloaded the app on my iPhone and felt that it was not particularly easy to use in this format. It works better on an iPad or on a computer. There is a great deal of useful information on the app but it looks as if you are scrolling through a dense web page rather than an easy to use app. A better strategy might have been to take users through a web-based tutorial and then allow them to download a version of the SAFE-T that automatically categorized the risk level and then led to a range of appropriate treatment suggestions.