As published in BailiwickExpress.com
Three years after losing her brother to suicide, the woman behind a simple online tool which has been credited with saving the lives of other people hopes to roll it out across our Bailiwick.
Alice Hendy works for Deloitte in the UK as a Risk Advisory Manager. She is also the Founder and CEO of R;pple, a suicide prevention tool.
The impact of Josh's death in November 2020 was immediate and multi-faceted, with his sister starting work on what would become R;pple just two weeks after he died.
When she discovered that Josh had been researching techniques to take his own life Ms Hendy set out to prevent those harmful internet searches from affecting any more lives.
What is R;pple?
R;pple is a digital tool which is activated when someone searches for harmful content online.
If R;pple has been downloaded then harmful internet searches will instead guide users to breathing exercises to induce a moment of calm, before directing the person to calmly presented strategies and forums, helplines and mental health services they can use immediately and again in the longer term.
The person is also shown messages of hope and encouragement.
"It's a browser extension and it can be downloaded en-masse on computers for schools, colleges, universities, businesses, and once downloaded it means that if someone were to go online and search for something harmful to do with self harm or suicide then it will intervene and instead signpost that person to support services," explained Ms Hendy. It can also be integrated into Wi-fi networks.
R;pple has been downloaded nearly two million times in 47 countries in just over two years since its launch.
Ms Hendy said she has been contacted by people who have told her that it stopped them from finding a way of taking their own life.
Ms Hendy threw herself into developing R;pple as it kept her going after losing her brother.
"It's really a safety net for people who might be finding things tough," she said.
"R;pple is effectively a non-judgemental intervention for people who are struggling. They might have previously reached out for support but they might not have, so it's for anybody who might be conducting harmful searches on the internet."
Ms Hendy's talk in Guernsey has sparked further conversations which will hopefully lead to R;pple being used by schools locally, along with businesses.
"All we need to do is link in the IT departments, at the schools, at the college, at the university, at the business and they can deploy R;pple en-masse to thousands of computers at once if they wanted to at the click of a button. It's really simple to do and it's a life saving precaution they can take." .
"This is available for everybody. Parents can download this at home for their kids, across all of the education sector, and the business sector, and venues. Football clubs have deployed this, coffee shops, airports. Train stations have got it in their Wi-fi networks. It really is for everybody.
"The fact there was a nice mix of people here (yesterday) will really help us get the word out in lots of different sectors and hopefully help us increase the number of downloads of R;pple."
Jo Huxtable, Partner at Deloitte Guernsey, said the firm is pleased to support her.
"It is a privilege to welcome Alice to the Guernsey office during our Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. Alice’s amazing charity reminds us of our responsibility to be compassionate and care for each other, which includes supporting colleagues to look after their mental health."
Jo Cottell, Chief Executive of Guernsey Mind, was at the lunchtime talk and hopes more people will start to use R;pple.
"We’re really looking forward to hearing Alice’s story and how she started R;pple," she said.
"It’s an incredible tool that really can really help those in distress and we want to help spread as much awareness of it as we can."
Ms Hendy explained why she has used a semi colon in the word Ripple for her charity.
"The reason I've put a semi colon as the 'i' in the name is because a semi colon is the international symbol of surviving suicide.
"If you use a semi colon in a sentence it means that the sentence isn't over, there's more to come, and in this context your story isn't over. There's more to come from you, so keep going."