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Using digital technology to prevent suicide


The Association québécoise de prévention du suicide (AQPS) has partnered with other suicide prevention organizations to create Quebec’s first digital platform for suicide prevention. Chat services, an information site and online self-assessment tools should help us meet the different needs of the population, whether they are individuals in distress, concerned friends or family members, or anyone bereaved by suicide. Our challenge was to set up a complete ecosystem, including a chat service that refers users to a professional based on level of urgency to make sure they receive an effective response.


After a period of in-depth research, nventive identified the digital needs of people affected by suicide and those of the health care professionals and social workers who answer emergency calls. Next, nventive’s designers worked in close collaboration with AQPS psychologists and specialists on each element of the design to make sure all aspects of the project (the website, online chat and mobile application) were as appropriate and helpful to the users as possible based on their situations. The entire project is based on recognized tools and methods currently used by mental health and suicide prevention professionals. On the technical side, we used Uno Platform, nventive’s proprietary open-source development platform, to deliver the many aspects of the ecosystem as quickly as possible in multiple web and mobile environments.


The website offers a wealth of information for people in distress, their concerned friends and family members, and others who are grieving. It includes information pages on suicide, mental illness and difficult life situations that can affect mental health, as well as testimonials, a blog and a directory of professional resources. The AQPS and nventive have put considerable work into writing the content and ensuring its SEO visibility.


The chat service, also available via text message, is a new addition to the help lines already in place. As written and spoken communication are so different (due to the perception of emotion in the voice, delays between each sentence, and so on), a number of internal tests were carried out so that the professionals could adjust their methodology to this new tool and ensure that chat interventions are as relevant and helpful as phone interventions. A questionnaire and referral system assesses the urgency of the situation from the start, directing the individual requiring assistance to a professional in one of the three different call centres.


This self-directed app offers various tools that individuals in distress can use alone to manage their challenges as best they can. Plus, it promotes helpful ideas that may prompt them to feel better. Fully recognized and currently used by mental health professionals, these tools include self-assessment questionnaires, a logbook, a safety plan and a self-management plan.

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THE RESULTS plays a key role in suicide prevention in Quebec. Within just a few weeks of its online launch, the site already had significant traffic, especially on the pages addressing individuals in distress, shortly followed by the app. The professionals have also shared very positive feedback regarding the chat line, and we have been informed that this tool has already made it possible to send emergency services to individuals in danger of harming themselves and thus prevent tragedies. For this kind of project, saving lives is the best result we could possibly hope for.