Can the Compassion of “The Crowd” Reduce Suicide?

HodlerDespondency1887WinterthurA web

Hodler, Despondency, 1887, Winterthur

Something we think a lot about here at Body1 is how to “Connect People with the Health Information that Matters Most to Them”.   In fact, we’ve made that our Mission.   We seek to apply it in our work, and in the ideas which we share.

Here’s one idea.  There’s a huge social opportunity to leverage digital for suicide prevention. Especially so, since suicide is a huge mental health issue that is largely unresolved.   It is a top 10 cause of death in America, 3rd behind only cancer and heart disease in years of life lost.   In the most recent full reporting year (2012), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 40,600 suicides, equivalent to someone dying every 13 minutes.

Given the immediacy of the need and the ubiquitous of smartphones, digital could offer a solution.  A 24 hour/day, 7 day/week, 365 day/year (24×7, 365) app that video links to a trained peer counselor is one possible approach.

.
There are some big questions to be answered first, including (but not limited to):

1. How to staff with appropriately trained personnel?
(one approach- could be drawn from a pool of *trained* volunteers with a round robin telephone routing),

2. How to market & distribute
(possibly via health plans, Apple, Google, telco’s, etc);

3. Who funds?
(options include CDC, state Health depts, crowdfunded?)

This seems to us like a wonderful way for digital to contribute to the social good.  Thoughts? Comments?

Ground-breaking Doctor Leaves an Extraordinary Legacy Behind

John Ludden, M.D. was an extraordinary man. He was a physician, a business executive, and a teacher who radiated both intelligence and humility, despite holding three degrees from Harvard. He was generous with his insights, only requesting that the recipient in turn share theirs. He was a “pay it forward” guy.

John was immensely interested in how the health care system itself could be improved. He realized early that people and processes were both vital. Many of the best parts of ongoing health reform came out of ideas that John helped pioneer, first as Medical Director at Harvard Community Health Plan, then as Director of the MD/MBA program at Tufts Medical School. He was busy there and as a director at NCQA, the American College of Physician Executives, and elsewhere, but still found time to help an emerging eHealth start-up, (Body1).

John was not only a director of Body1, he was an active contributing creative force. He was intrigued by the Internet’s promise as a means to improve patient care. As just one example, John’s psychiatry experience and insights were the intellectual basis behind Body1’s online depression self-assessment tool. This tool was so robust when it first launched that we had to reduce some of the functionality, as we did not want to “practice medicine online”. But that was classic John Ludden–give what you needed, and then also give some extra.

John died last month but his legacy lives on. I am grateful to have known and worked with him. Everyone at Body1 is. We remember his keen intelligence, his unique grin when a particularly good insight hit him, and his kind sense of humor. In a world where gentlemen are often hard to find, Dr. John Ludden was a consummate gentleman and we are all better people because of him.

Chris Messina, CEO, Body1

Note: John’s family has chosen to support The Great Books Foundation in his memory.