Source: Ursula Whiteside
There is enormous and largely untapped potential to prevent suicide, and that’s because suicidal people visit their doctors. Nearly half of people who die by suicide visit their doctor in the month before their death. Routine screening for depression can uncover suicidal thoughts—but that’s only part of the story. Doctors need suicide-specific resources for immediate, brief intervention. The NowMattersNow.org website is an open-access, video-based resource for individuals with suicidal thoughts. A study just released in the open-access journal, Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that suicidal people visiting NowMattersNow.org reported measurable reductions in intensity of suicidal thoughts and emotions. Researchers asked over 3000 website visitors about how they felt before they got to the website compared to after a few minutes on the website. Nearly one-third were significantly less suicidal in under ten minutes. The intensity of their negative emotions had also decreased. This was true even for people who said their suicidal thoughts were completely overwhelming.
“The user experience for Now Matters Now was completely driven by empathy for the visitor. The digital experience needed to be caring, calming and feel as human as possible. This was achieved through the deliberate use of color floods, type, large photography and videography,” says author Michael Ellsworth.
Because website use is associated with reductions in suicidal thoughts and negative emotions, healthcare providers can feel confident referring suicidal people to NowMattersNow.org for short-term management of suicidal thoughts and negative emotions.
Ursula Whiteside, first author on this new study, says “We set out to build a free resource that was built with not only science, but also with the voices and stories of people who had experienced suicidal thoughts. We wanted clinicians to feel empowered to help those who were struggling. And moreover we wanted suicidal people to have exposure to DBT skills even if they didn’t have the resources or money. We think we have done that.”
Whiteside U, Richards J, Huh D, Hidalgo R, Nordhauser R, Wong AJ, Zhang X, Luxton DD, Ellsworth M, Lezine D
Development and Evaluation of a Web-Based Resource for Suicidal Thoughts: NowMattersNow.org
J Med Internet Res 2019;21(5):e13183. http://www.jmir.org/2019/5/e13183/