Manchester Met Uni design app to help ‘hundreds at risk’ from abuse, crisis and suicide

Manchester Metropolitan University has designed an app to help those at risk of suicide.

The software, Rescue Station, allows users to pre-arrange face-to-face support based on a traffic light system with red signifying an urgent need for help and green meaning ‘I’m ok’.

In contrast to many other NHS apps, which only connect the user to information, Rescue Station facilitates support from family and friends.

Manchester Metropolitan’s Dr Cathy Urquhart, Professor of Digital and Sustainable Enterprise, and Dr Jenny Cole, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, have been involved in the creation of the mobile app in partnership with Laurie Cooper of Digital Labs.

Dr Urquhart said:  “The app has the potential to help hundreds at risk including victims of bullying and abuse.

“It enables users to negotiate the precise type of support they need between themselves and a friend or family member.

“The social negotiation between the supported and supporter is key in this application and it’s this aspect we wish the research and evaluate.”

The university announced the app during this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, 16-20 November.

Coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, this year’s theme ‘Make a Noise about Bullying’ aims to empower young people and encourage parents to talk about bullying.

Twitter users have been highlighting the issue using #AntiBullyingWeek and #MakeaNoise.

Development of the app will be taken further through testing, interviews and observation on the target user group.

Given the nature of the research and the involvement of people at risk of suicide, app developers will be in consultation with a range of experts from psychologists to support workers.

The project fits into wider University research exploring the nature and authenticity of ‘digital’ friendships made via social media such as Facebook and Snapchat.

Technology is an ever-growing part of life, with 81% of UK 13 to 18-year-olds now owning a smartphone.

Young people were recently allowed to contribute to the research at the annual Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science.

Questions around digital friendships were debated as youngsters shared their ideas for the Rescue Station app.

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