There were 5,691 lives lost to suicide in England and Wales in 2019. And with I.2 million internet searches on ways to take your own life every month, suicide intervention couldn’t be more important. It offers people a choice when they are most vulnerable.
Friday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. It also marks the launch of R;pple Suicide Prevention, an online monitoring tool that uses a visual prompt to intercept users searching for harmful content.
Alice Hendy, R;pple CEO and Founder, tells us how a family tragedy motivated her to create this charitable organisation designed to make the internet a safer place. This is a story of how the unimaginable empowered positive change to help save the lives of others.
Tell us about R;pple and your motivation behind it.
I lost my only sibling, my brother Josh, to suicide on the 25th November 2020. He was 21 years old.
Josh had been researching techniques to take his own life via harmful internet searches. The content available online following a search of this nature currently provides mental health support in one format: a helpline.
To ensure more help and support are given to individuals searching for harmful content online, I set up R;pple Suicide Prevention. My mission is to ensure people who are actively searching for harmful online content relating to self-harm or suicide are presented with mental health support options in a format that works for them.
Ultimately, I feel my purpose in life now is to stop any other sisters waking up feeling how I do each morning.
How do you think it will make a difference?
Unfortunately, harmful content is readily available online. Too many platforms exist that contain content I feel should be banned. My brother personally visited some of these sites, and I am fighting every day to make the internet a safer place.
R;pple is an online interceptive tool designed to ensure more help and support are provided to individuals who are conducting searches relating to self-harm or suicide.
R;pple provides an immediate, vibrant display on a person’s device once they have been flagged as searching for online content relating to self-harm or suicide. It consists of a message of hope, as well as a selection of mental health resources in a range of different communicative options (call, text, webchat) from free, established and 24/7 charity services.
R;pple provides people with a voice, choice, empowerment and control at a time when they are most vulnerable.
Your background is in IT, how did you use this to create R;pple?
My career to date has been varied, including spending time working in London at Barclays HQ and HSBC HQ in Cyber Security. My current role is a Cyber Security Specialist for a global insurance firm, which I absolutely love (and who are super supportive of R;pple).
Following the loss of my brother, I had a burning desire to utilise my skillset to make a positive difference. But I would not have a R;pple tool had it not been for some absolutely amazing volunteers. I particularly want to call out David Savage from Blue Tea London who came forward and offered his team’s services to help me build and develop my tool, and Eilidh Gibson who has also suffered the unimaginable loss of losing a sibling to suicide and has designed my tool with some very cool illustrations.
Where do you hope to see R;pple in the future?
For me, R;pple has the capacity to be truly global. I hope to see R;pple experience a geographical scale up focusing on countries that are in the biggest mental health crisis (such as Japan). This approach would be tailored on how those who search for this content interact with the internet in that country.
I’m also working with several organisations to integrate my R;pple tool into Wi-Fi networks. This would mean that anyone connected to the Wi-Fi network in question and searching for harmful content on the web would be intercepted by R;pple. It’s a lot of technical work, but I believe this will save thousands of lives across the globe.
How to use R;pple
To start with, R;pple is available to download as a browser extension. To download it for free*, simply watch this short instruction video or follow the instructions below:
- Open Chrome Web Store
- Search ‘Ripple tool’
- Select ’Add to Chrome’
- Select ’Add extension’
R;pple launches on Friday 10th September, World Suicide Prevention Day.
For more information visit https://www.ripplesuicideprevention.com
Connect with Alice @ripplesuicideprevention
If you are thinking about harming yourself, please reach out to the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.