A NEW crisis card developed by a Stockton Heath media company could potentially save lives by talking directly to a person at risk of suicide.

Launched by James’ Place, a charity offering support to men at risk of suicide, a simple mobile phone scan of the crisis card brings to life an augmented reality human being who can help break down the barrier of asking for help, by offering immediate support and advice.

Using the crisis card that promotes engagement with the James’ Place service makes the person feel less alone, reducing the likelihood of them actually taking their own life.

The James’ Place Crisis Card is now being distributed widely at university campuses, sports stadiums and A&E departments as a new way to target men and to offer a powerful arm in the fight against male suicide.

The technology behind the initiative can be customised to suit specific needs – a voice with a reassuringly familiar local accent, for example.

It has been developed by Stockton Heath AR and digital design company Media and Digital who worked with the Mersey Care NHS Trust Foundation and suicide prevention charity James’ Place to bring this initiative to life.

Stuart Atherton, managing director of MaD said: “When we were approached by The Innovation Agency on behalf of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, we knew immediately how we could use the power of AR to reach out to and really engage with this demographic.

"The feeling of having someone to talk to greatly lessens the possibility of an individual taking their own life – and the crisis card offers a supportive, one-to-one environment in a safe and familiar format.”

Steve Bradbury, deputy director of improvement & innovation, Centre for Perfect Care at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust added: “The Centre for Perfect Care, set up to help continuously improve our services, opens the door for the trust to work in partnership with other providers. The therapeutic services offered by James’ Place give much needed care and support to vulnerable individuals in a safe and familiar environment.

"Our goal is to see suicide rates drop dramatically following the introduction of the crisis cards.”