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Teen With Chronic Illness Develops Suicide Prevention 'notOK' App

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

What happened: A teen developed a new app called “notOK” to help people having suicidal thoughts after her own suicide attempt. Hannah Lucas, who lives with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), went through a difficult period following her chronic illness diagnosis. POTS causes symptoms such as fainting, lightheadedness and a paid heartbeat. After her suicide attempt, Lucas described wishing she could simply press a button to let her family know she wasn’t doing OK. Now, that’s exactly what the notOK app does. Users can press a button on the app that contacts pre-selected loved ones to let them know they need help.

I realized that I had to make a change. … I needed something that I could use for both my mental illness and my chronic illness, and that’s when I came up with the idea for the notOK app. — Hannah Lucas, WVTM13

The Frontlines: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 13-34 and the 10th among all age groups in the United States. Some groups face an even higher risk of suicide.

  • People with chronic illnesses are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempts. According to a Florida hospital, one study found that chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and Crohn’s disease increase the likelihood a young person will have suicidal thoughts by 28%.
  • Orlando Health also noted that some studies suggest close to 70% of suicides are linked to chronic conditions.
  • One study found people between the age of 15 and 30 with chronic disease were three times more likely to attempt suicide.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Zoë B., shared what it’s like for her living with suicidal thoughts and a chronic condition. She said, “I can’t face the thought of a lifetime feeling so unwell and so unable to be part of the world, of seeing my life pass me by while I watch helplessly from the sidelines. […] What keeps me going is knowing how much it would hurt those who love me if I left this world, my fear it might encourage others to make the same choice, as well as having hope that things will improve. ” You can submit your first person story, too.

From Our Community:

What symptom is “loudest” for you today?

Other things to know: Here is what other Mighty contributors are saying about living with a chronic illness:

How to take action: The “notOK” app is free and available for Apple and Android devices. You can learn more about it by visiting the app’s website.

Header screenshot via WVTM13

Originally published: October 22, 2020
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