advertisement
advertisement

These teen siblings designed an app that’s a literal life-saver

These teen siblings designed an app that’s a literal life-saver
[Illustration: Olya Protasova]

As a freshman in high school two years ago, Hannah Lucas developed a chronic illness called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which causes frequent fainting spells. On top of the physical difficulty of navigating her daily life, she was bullied, and became so severely depressed that she began contemplating suicide. Fortunately, her mother was there to counsel her. But what if she hadn’t been? What if Hannah needed to call for help, and no one was around? Voicing these thoughts to her younger brother, Charlie, she kept coming back to the idea of a simple app that would function as a distress call: If activated, it would automatically send a text to trusted contacts. Charlie, who had been learning to code since he was 7, told her, “I could do this.” Last January, Hannah and Charlie launched the notOK app (available for free on Google Play and the App Store). With a single touch, the notOK app delivers a message to five friends or family members chosen by the user: “Hey, I’m notOK. Please call, text, or come check on me as soon as you can.” GPS provides the sender’s exact location with each message.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 in the U.S., and mental health issues affect 1.1 billion people worldwide. In the year since the notOK free app launched, 53,000 people have downloaded it, Hannah says, and she and her brother are working on an integration with Crisis Text Line, the mobile counseling service. “No matter what,” Hannah says, “it’s okay to be not okay.”

advertisement
advertisement