Document Type



suicide, mHealth, usability, engagement, mobile phone


Background: People with suicidal thoughts are more inclined to seek technology-delivered interventions than in-person forms of treatment, making mobile apps for suicide prevention an ideal platform for treatment delivery. This review examines apps designed for suicide prevention, with a specific focus on user engagement. Objective: This study aims to update the literature and broadly evaluate the landscape of mobile health apps for suicide prevention; examine apps with key features and primary approaches to suicide prevention; and systematically evaluate the engagement, functionality, aesthetics, and information of the apps. Methods: All apps related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors were identified in the Google Play and iOS app stores and were systematically reviewed for their content and quality. The mobile app rating scale (MARS) was used to evaluate app usability and engagement. Results: Of the 66 apps identified, 42 (64%) were specifically designed for people with suicidal ideation, and 59 (89%) had at least one best practice feature for suicide risk reduction. The mean overall MARS score of all apps was 3.5 (range 2.1-4.5), with 83% (55/66) of apps having a minimum acceptability score of 3. The total MARS score was not associated with the user app rating (r=−0.001; P=.99) or the number of features (r=0.24; P=.09). Conclusions: This study identified many usable and engaging apps in app stores designed for suicide prevention. However, there are only limited apps for clinicians. Thus, mobile apps for suicide prevention should be carefully developed and clinically evaluated.

Publication Date

July 2021

Publication Title

JMIR Formative Research







Included in

Psychology Commons



Repository URL