Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced the launch of Albany County HOPE (Help, Options, Prevention and Education) a mobile suicide prevention application offering information and resources for people in crisis or their loved ones. The Albany County HOPE app provides real-time information that can be accessed at any time. The roll out comes as the county marks Bullying Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the toll that bullying can exact on young people.
“Suicide is a serious public health issue that severely impacts our community,” said McCoy. “The Albany County HOPE app is an accessible and convenient tool people can use to quickly get the help they need using the latest technology. People increasingly rely on mobile phones and other devices to communicate and share information. The app will also enable the public to identify when someone may need help and where they can get help.”
Joining McCoy today was Karen Ziegler, Director of the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center and chair of the county’s Bullying Prevention Task Force, which provides programs and training for local school districts to reduce bullying through awareness and education.
The County Executive McCoy also noted that the county is working to protect children in other ways. On October 9th, he signed legislation prohibiting the cyberbullying of minors through online communications.
A Yale University study shows bullying victims are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims while another study has found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
“The timing is right, given that October is Bullying Prevention Month,” said McCoy. “As leaders we must do all we can to help kids understand that bullying in not acceptable, either online or in person. Kids need to know that what they say or do to others can have serious consequences and negatively impact others.”
The app was designed with input from the Albany County Department of Mental Health and Albany County Department For Children, Youth and Families. It offers information for adolescents, teens, veterans and adults and general information on warning signs, what to say to someone who may be suicidal and other resources. Every screen on the app contains a “call for help” option that links to a local mental health crisis hotline.
Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that while the overall rate for the top ten causes of death in the US decreased, the suicide rate increased two percent to 12.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2012. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US.
Albany County is the second county in the state to launch a suicide prevention app. Ulster County launched a similar app last year and made the code available for use by other counties. The free app is available for Android devices at the Google Play Store, on Apple devices at the iTunes Store and can be found using the search term Albany County HOPE.