Bioethics Blogs

Suicide Prevention: There’s an App for That

I have been slow to fully embrace the full potential my
smartphone. I have a few apps that I use regularly for entertainment or basic
information, like weather updates and maps. It’s convenient. I can entertain
myself with games or social networking while I wait in lines or for a child to
finish theater rehearsals, basketball/ballet/swimming practices. If I look up,
most others waiting in parked cars are doing the same thing, a faint blue glow
radiating from somewhere below the steering wheel.  Before we had devices to entertain us, we
would more than likely spend the minutes talking, person to person. I tend to
think person to person is better, after all a pen and ink letter, sharing
coffee at a small café table, or a supportive hug must mean more than emoticon
symbols. But maybe these tiny pictures can convey the intended emotion and
offer a substitute when the real thing must be delayed or is otherwise not
possible. Where is the line at which an electronic emotion, or interpretation
of feeling is no longer enough? When I first learned that there were suicide
prevention apps, I was aghast. Have we lost so much human connectedness that
even acute emotional despair is summarized in a miniature touch screen? How can
an app provide the essential emergent interventions to a person in such despair
that he or she is contemplating suicide? But if this is where our social focus
is anyway, and the first place people search when looking for help, perhaps it
is not such a bad idea.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.