Monroe nonprofit hopes to save lives with app for suicide prevention

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - In just a few taps, a Monroe-based nonprofit hopes to connect smartphone users with crisis responders for suicide prevention.

The “Got Your Back” app is free and available for Android and Apple Users.

The app’s launching page has options to dial emergency responders, including 911 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Users can also contact their “squad,” or their personal support network.

Teri Ellefson, who had the idea behind the app, said she is still working to add new features. She is currently rolling out the latest update.

Ellefson is the founder of the Jacob’s SWAG (Support With Awareness and Giving) Foundation.

She lost her son Jacob in 2012. A middle school graduate, Jacob had taken his own life.

“[It] came out of nowhere,” Ellefson said. “But after talking with his friends after he passed away, they saw some struggling and had some talks with Jake. That just never came over to us as parents.”

The foundation works to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health. The app has been an attempt to reach more teens and meet them where they are. “Kids are so much a part of the electronic world these days,” Ellefson said.

She continued, “Maybe this could have helped him [Jacob]. Maybe he could’ve used this to reach out to us or to reach out to someone and just ask for help.”

For the latest app update, SSM Health joined as a financial sponsor.

“We know that prevention and education is what’s going to help the community, and we just want to be a part of that solution,” Tammie Jamiska, a community health specialist with SSM Health member Monroe Clinic, said.

”Mental health is actually one of our health priorities,” Jamiska added. “It has been for probably the last ten years in Green County.”

She said SSM Health plans to promote the app across its hospital system and take it to the community.

With new partners, Jacob’s family members hope their mission will lead to fewer tragedies.

“If one person thinks of maybe harming themselves and pulls out the app to do either the breathing exercises or contacts the initial help, then we’ve been successful in this project,” Ellefson said.

If you or anyone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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