1. The specific social problem of the children in Bulgaria on which we are working, in one sentence.
Suicide risk and its adequate prevention, as well as effective crisis intervention before and after a suicide attempt.
2. Arguments that this is an important problem and needs attention and resolution.
A short ‘dark’ statistics story, so let the numbers talk:
2014: Bulgaria has a higher number of suicides or attempts of suicides in Europe. “In our country, there are more than 1600 people who take their own lives, 20% of them are children.” That means 320 children per year.
2015: “One child per day attempts suicide in Bulgaria.” It is a worrying trend that the lower age threshold is continuing to drop. According to the National agency for social health and analysis, there are 5-6-year-old children, who attempt to take their own lives.
2016: “Everyday, in Bulgaria, there are at least 8 suicide attempts. There is an increase in the number of suicide attempts. There is a decrease in the mean age of those who attempt suicide. There is also an increase in the “successful” suicide attempts. In Europe the ratio of suicide: an attempt is 1:8 and 1:10, in Bulgaria, it is now 1:4. Effective and adequate prevention is crucial and necessary.
3. Our innovative solution to this problem.
A mobile app “Hear me, Here I`m” for children aged 6-18, who have suicidal tendencies, thoughts or behaviors, who want or have attempted suicide. In its entirety, the app is a simulation of a psychotherapeutic session and it serves the purpose of a crisis intervention, while additionally, there will be an online support group option.
4. How does it work?
Emilia Sotirova: “I work with children who have attempted suicide, since the beginning of my practice.” The solution, which we offer is psychological consultations, psychotherapy, and crisis intervention put together through one innovative way to help and translated to be useful in the nowadays technological world. The methodology is specially created to simulate a crisis intervention, which a psychologist would do and after that to present the opportunity for a live meeting. In the app, there is a platform for support groups, where the children will have the opportunity to communicate in an anonymous way, where they will be able to express how they feel and in there is something that helps them. Offering space where the child has the opportunity to speak freely of its feelings and experiences, without guilt and being judges is the key solution. This will make children more open, more confident, more resilient, because they will know that they are not alone and there is someone they can turn to when they need support.
5. Basic target groups of our solution and what is the estimated number of children which are covered by it.
The main target group for the app is children aged 6-18. Hypothetically, the range of the app includes all children in this age range who have a mobile phone. Considering the technological time that we live in, we can assume that all age at school has a phone, which equals 614 222 children in total in the educational system in Bulgaria, according to the National Statistical Institute. Separately, target groups are psychologists, psychotherapists, pedagogues, and other trained individuals, which will be able to buy a specially created methodology, which is the theoretical part of the app (which is free for the children), so they can practice and help through it.
6. How the life of a child, will be influenced by our app/work.
We will tell you a mock conversation, so we can demonstrate the effects of the work (in short).
– Hi Maria, I’m here. Tell me what you are going through?
– Hello, lately I only think of killing myself. I don’t expect anything nice from this life and nothing nice comes next, I just want everything to be done with. I feel terrible.
-Maria, in order to understand what is happening to you, can you tell me what it is that worries you the most and make you feel the way you do?
– My life has suddenly turned. My mother started to unnerve me and this one time I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I hit her. I understood that I made a huge mistake and that she will probably never forgive me. I have huge problems with my parents.
– Maria, the fact that you reached out to me, in this time of your life, is of huge importance. Do you want to build together your “saving” plan for action?
– Yes, I do need support. I want to get my life back together, I want to be happy again.
7. What are we measuring exactly, so we know that our work has an effect?
We are measuring the suicide attempts in children aged 6 – 18. Data will be collected from several sources, one of them is ‘downloading and installing’ of the app, another one is measuring suicide attempts statistics at the beginning and end of the year in which it is launched. Another method is collecting information from the real life-meetings between child and psychologist, as well as feedback from teachers and parents.
8. What other organizations work on the same problem? How is what we do differently?
In Bulgaria, the focus and understanding of prevention of the suicide risk are related to ”being informed” There is a lack of any type of practical focus and real support giving for the children and adults. “Being informed” may work for the professionals and the relatives, but is absolutely useless for the people who suffer, who are depressed or who need support and need to be heard and to know that they are not alone. Isn’t prevention focused on them specifically? Worldwide, there are a few apps which have similarities with “Hear me, Here I`m” and have a practical therapeutic element. Those are TalkLife -You’re Not Alone; Prevensuic; Suicide Safety Plan; Stay Alive HS Suicide Prevention App; Suicide Safe. However, none of them are specialized for children, as “Hear Me, Here I`m“ is.
9. How are we developing our idea, so that we help make the life of as many children as possible, better?
Our plan is to have a launch of the app, simultaneously with organizing “Informative” lectures at Bulgarian schools, so we can present the app to as many children as possible and let them know they can use the app for support and help. Of course, the app will have its own marketing campaign targeting children as well as specialists, teachers, and parents.
10. How many children do we think that our work will reach by 2021, i.e. 5 years from now?
Thousands. This belief is based on the National Statistics Institute for children in schools and based on internet research about forum activity on the subject.
11. Financial Support needed for the project to become reality.
– Individual donations ; – Corporate donations; – Investments (credits or individual capital) ; Others
Money needed: 37 000 BGN
12. The basic planned activities needed to make this project reality:
– Development of methodology. It needs a team of psychologists and developing specific model working with the focus of the project – suicide.
– Development of the mobile app.
– Marketing and distribution.
13. How and when was the idea, that we offer, born?
Emilia Sotirova: “In 2012, I read an article about a child, which made a suicide attempt and I became interested in this sphere and what is made to prevent this behavior. In 2014, I dedicated my master’s dissertation on the topic ” Suicide risk and prevention”, as I developed a special questionnaire for it, which measures 1) Information levels, 2) Attitudes towards suicide prevention in children aged 14-18, 3) Information attitudes. Results show that children are being informed enough on the subject, but the subject is a “tabu” in their families and they don’t have enough space where to work on their emotions. It is 2017 now, and in work as a psychologist, I often consult children with suicidal ideation. The idea for the app was born during a session with one of those children.”
Our target group is not children with illnesses, abandoned children, minority children- but healthy children with a life problem, which bring them a huge amount of psychological tension. They have the chance to grow up, to learn, to be successful, but there is no one to support them, when they are in crisis or when they need to be paid attention to. This is exactly why our app is focused on them. This issue is becoming more and more frightening, and the suicide attempt low age border is going lower and lower. There is no adequate practical solution so far.
15. What steps have we already taken, to make the project reality?
We have developed the basis of the methodology behind the app. A research is made about the value of the idea and if it is a pressing issue. A team of psychologists is gathered, which are ready to start work on the project. There is an action plan developed and established main goals and tasks. There are spheres specified, where is it important to be paid special attention. A working logo is created for the app “Hear me, Here I`m”.
We believe in the effect that the app will have and that this is the way to reach to more children and for them to get the help they need, and not just simulating a work process when there is a real need for help.
Investment/ Sponsorship/ Donations linked to the project “Hear me, Here I`m”
Reason for payment: Project „HEAR ME, HERE I`M“
Centre and psychologists contact: