County to launch suicide prevention app

Local News

A new app now in development would allow any one of us to reach out to someone who may be in danger of taking their own life. It’s slated to begin operation in Blair County this spring, but it’s impact may go a lot further.

On Tuesday, the Blair County Commissioners approved an agreement between the county’s Department of  Social Services and Professional Staffing Solutions, the local company that’s developing the app.

It will consist of the six questions on the nationally recognized Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.
They include : Have you had any thoughts about killing yourself? Have you thought about how you would do that?

“Most people are not comfortable with asking someone directly are you thinking about taking your life. This allows that opportunity for them to do it and get help for  those who may need it,” said Jim Hudack, Director, Blair County Social Services.

He came up with the idea of the app and took it to local software developer Joe Merilli. 

“We are working with Blair County first,” Merilli said, “and once we have it rolled out to Blair County we will work with the national group, to roll it out to hopefully the rest of the country and really around the world.”

Merilli says the app will be free to  individuals and at a low cost to counties, school districts and other groups that want to use it.

He said when it’s ready to go live, he’ll make it available for folks to download for both iPhone and Android devices.

The app will also include specific local information on where people with suicidal thoughts can get help.

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