Michigan Universities, VA Health System Adopt Early Alert to Reduce Suicidal Ideation

Early Alert, a texting platform, aims to reduce suicidal ideation and provide support to groups in high-stress environments.

Michigan Universities, VA Health System Adopt Early Alert to Reduce Suicidal Ideation

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Several Michigan-based universities and a healthcare system for veterans have implemented Early Alert, a texting platform that connects people in the early stages of distress with support resources.

Central Michigan University College of Medicine, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the School of Medicine at Wayne State University, and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law have implemented the technology, which is designed to cater to the specific needs of environments such as medical and law schools, clinics, veterans programs, and first responders.

Developed by Dr. Eran Magen, who earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Standford University, the system aims to reduce suicidal ideation and provide crucial support to groups in high-stress environments, according to a press release. The system catches users in crisis and connects them to professionals nearby.

Early Alert communicates with users via text messaging and it is not app-based. It proactively reaches out to users to ask how they are, resulting in high response rates and higher chances of catching someone in the early stages of distress, according to the company. By default, Early Alert checks in once a week but check-ins can be customized based on preferences.

When users respond in a way that suggests they may be experiencing distress, Early Alert sends recommendations for two types of support resources:

  1. Primary support resources offer users an opportunity to speak to an expert such as a psychotherapist, a physician, or a financial aid advisor
  2. Self-help resources offer users who are not ready to speak with an expert an opportunity to learn more about their challenges and take steps toward better health

All user responses are confidential and no individual identifiable information is reported back to an organization except in situations involving a potential risk to self or others, says the website. Organizations are provided with de-identified, aggregate data in the form of a wellness dashboard.

For more information, including answers to FAQs, visit www.earlyalert.me.

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