By: Caitlyn BrownThe use of apps has become fluent and an ingrained part of our technology use. Children know how to access and use apps before they understand how to use a television remote. We use apps to make lists, stay connected, check the weather predictions, navigate and avoid traffic, and to stay entertained. Apps are an integral part of our daily living now, allowing us to outsource information that generations before smartphones had to keep in their memory banks.
Our dependence on technology (namely our phones and social media) has led to criticism regarding our ability to have fulfilling interpersonal relationships. On the flip side, technology has improved our ability to stay connected to those who are physically distanced from us for various reasons including deployment and TDY. The invention and use of apps, smartphones, and video calling has aided in families’ ability to remain in contact with their loved ones who are not within physical proximity to one another. The invention of the aforementioned has also added another element that can be of great benefit: support.
Operation Reach Out was created by Military Community Awareness, Inc. (MCA). It is a smartphone app that aims to prevent suicide in military personnel, veterans, and service members. In addition to assisting those who are at-risk for suicide directly, it is also designed to assist those who are concerned about others who may be at risk.
When service members return from deployment, some may reintegrate back into their lives with no issues or concerns. Others, especially those suffering from PTSD or other mental health concerns, may feel isolated or detached from their support systems for one reason or another upon their return. The app was created to mitigate these feelings of isolation and detachment by creating a support service to those who may feel they have no options.
Operation Reach Out provides support, education, resources and help to its users. Regardless of the user, the app provides resources and online links to websites such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Defense Suicide Prevention Office, MilitaryFamily.com and Military Community Awareness to name a few.
The app encourages those who are at risk to provide the contact information of those closest to them in case they need to be contacted. It also provides a list of activities that encourage an individual to reconnect with those they feel closest to even though they may have isolated themselves from that person. These activities and suggestions can be rated so the app can be more intuitive to the user’s interests and needs.
Additionally, this app provides over ten videos that provide empathetic and compassionate reminders to those who may be in crisis. The goal of the videos is to help the individual understand that the feelings they may be experiencing in the moment will pass and that all problems are solvable if given the time. If you are using the app for your concern about someone else, Operation Reach Out provides nine videos to help navigate questions to ask and how to phrase things when communicating with the individual at risk.
Links for the app:
For Android Users: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=suicide.prevention.app&hl=en
For iPhone Users: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/operation-reach-out/id478899653
This post was written by Caitlyn Brown of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.