The team behind the original See Something. Say Something smartphone app continues development of a project designed to reduce youth suicide in Taos County. Recently, the team landed new partnerships to expand the reach and effectiveness of crisis intervention tools offered in a free, mobile package.
In May, the app saw its official launch on the Google Play Store and Apple Store, featuring phone and text hotlines that place distressed youth in contact with trained counselors around the clock, as well as youth, who are able to share words of encouragement with peers.
The initiative was inspired by the loss of four Taos youths to suicide in the summer of 2016 - a community crisis that saw the concurrent development of several grassroots organizations that share a similar goal, albeit with differing approaches.
Today, the black-and-red-colored See Something. Say Something app icon appears on many students' cellphones throughout the Taos area, said Luckie Daniels, an information technology consultant, program manager and leader on the project. "We supported 460 Taos Middle School students with enabling our 'SeeSay' app on their devices before summer break," Daniels, 51, said.
She; her son, Justis Daniels-Bezout, a high school student; and local IT instructor Jeffery Everett have since been making the rounds in Taos and in the wider New Mexico and national communities, demonstrating their app and explaining what's next for the initiative.
Their campaign itself has garnered recognition for its effectiveness in widening the app's audience and gathering interest from partners big and small.
KNCE-FM 93.5 was one of the first local media outlets to back the project, hosting a weekly radio show called, "Hear Us," every Sunday. Daniels-Bezout, 17, and other teen guest speakers became well-known voices on the program as they openly discussed a subject that renders many adults speechless. The show won an award for "best specialty show" in the 2017 New Mexico Broadcasters Association Excellence in Broadcasting competition.
Daniels-Bezout also spoke as an invited panelist at the Suicide Prevention Summit in Albuquerque this year, which was hosted by El Centro New Mexico and the Addiction Technology Transfer Center.
Recently, See Something. Say Something forged new partnerships with Crisis Text Line and Facebook Global Safety.
Daniels and her crew will be collaborating with the latter, an arm of the social media giant that seeks to provide safe internet usage, including mitigating abusive, bullying behaviors on its platform. In this, Daniels saw an opportunity to integrate Facebook Messenger into their crisis intervention protocol.
Crisis Text Line provides year-round, 24/7 contact with trained crisis counselors for teens and young adults via text message - a form of communication that a majority of American teens favor over phone calls, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.
Daniels said that the organization has never before partnered with a local organization. "We're the first," she said. "When we first started thinking about the app and looking for a service provider, we wanted someone who knew how to talk to young people. Crisis Line was right there."
Daniels-Bezout will begin working with Crisis Text Line to implement a new ambassador program modeled after the team's campaign to share its app and mission with other school systems. He has also started working as the organization's "first teen blogger."
"The collaboration[s] will help 'SeeSay' broaden its reach in providing real-time crisis intervention for teens in need both locally and nationally," Daniels said.
In September, Daniels and her son will attend the 2017 Social Good Summit in New York City to "live blog and tweet on behalf of Crisis Text Line," Daniels said, adding that she is currently interviewing for a role on its product development team.
"We're super excited," Daniels said of the recent progress of the See Something. Say Something project. "This is a battle, and we're in it."