Teen, who attempted self-murder 7 times, builds apps that saved …

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On average, there are 123 suicides per day in a United States. If we or someone we know needs help, call a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline during 1-800-273-TALK.
USA TODAY

Sitting alone in a lifeguard tower watching the object penetrate next a horizon, Amanda Southworth had a preference to make.

This Los Angeles teen, gripped by depression and anxiety, could continue on as she had, not eating, dependant to painkillers and attempting regularly to kill herself, or she could squeeze a salvation and use her adore of coding to save her possess life and others.

On that chilly summer evening in 2015, she hatched a thought for AnxietyHelper, a mobile app that offers the resources she herself needed, and embarked on a tour of recovering and liberation that has led to a career in a tech world.

“I can overtly contend that record has saved my life,” pronounced Southworth. She says she hasn’t spoiled herself or attempted self-murder since. “When we found something larger than myself, we satisfied that we am not only a chairman with a life. we am a chairman who has something to contribute.”

Now 16, she’s forsaken out of high propagandize and final month started her possess association — though not a approach many immature record entrepreneurs do. Astra Labs is a program nonprofit saved by donors and a $25,000 extend from a TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund. She spoke to USA TODAY from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose Friday. 

Southworth’s commitment to creating mobile apps and other software that assistance others was reinforced this week. The deaths of engineer Kate Spade and cook and radio horde Anthony Bourdain were grave reminders of a fee of suicide, a tenth-leading means of genocide in a United States and one of 3 that is increasing, quite for teens.

The self-murder rate for white children and teenagers ages 10 to 17 rose 70% between 2006 and 2016, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves reduction mostly than white girl do, a rate of boost was higher, 77%. 

Southworth estimates she’s been mentally ill for some-more than half her life. She says she attempted self-murder during slightest 7 times.

The bottom fell out when, as a nerdy kid, she changed to a new city for center school, where she had no friends and felt like an outsider. Southworth used to send her destiny self emails that reflected her feelings of siege and worthlessness: “I wish you’re not alive to get this email.” She daydreamed during propagandize about murdering herself. She’d arise adult in a morning and cry that she was still alive. 

More: Anthony Bourdain highlights a rising self-murder rate among prime adults

More: Suicide warning signs: Here’s what to demeanour for when someone needs help

More: ‘We’re so intensely busy:’ More job self-murder impediment hotlines given luminary deaths

More: A friend’s Facebook, Instagram post competence be a self-murder warning sign. Here’s what to do next

What saved her: a sixth-grade robotics bar in 2011 that introduced her to a possibilities of record and desirous her to soak adult believe about web growth and synthetic comprehension from a Internet and textbooks.

Her first app, AnxietyHelper, a mental health apparatus guide, debuted in a app store in Sep 2015 during her ninth-grade Latin class. Her vehement classmates downloaded it and she finished a day with18 users. Even that tiny feat gave her faith in her possess energy and a clarity of purpose, Southworth says.

“I was always really mortal toward myself. Coding is a opposite. It’s about creating. It’s about holding opposite characters on a keyboard and transforming them into something bigger than you,” she said.

In May 2017, she launched a mobile app called Verena for a LGBTQ village after friends were bullied in a moving domestic meridian around a presidential election. Verena, that means guardian in German, locates hospitals, shelters and military stations and users can emanate a list of contacts to be alerted in an emergency.

“Everything in my life has shown me that both good and bad things in this universe will continue to occur and that’s out of a control. But it’s what we do with a things that occur to us that can make all of a difference,” she pronounced in a TedX talk last Nov in Pasadena, Calif. “My name is Amanda Southworth, I’m 15 years old, a youth in high propagandize and I’m still alive.”

Building apps relieves highlight and helps her cope and problem solve, she says. And assisting others has helped her reanimate herself.

“The some-more we work, a some-more we do what we love, a improved we feel,” she said.

Until she started Astra Labs, Southworth bootstrapped her apps, operative pointless tech jobs. The apps are free, and she runs no ads and does not collect user data. “My core truth is that people should not have to compensate for something if their life would be finished but it,” she said.

Three some-more apps are in a works: one to assistance spin handwritten category records into investigate guides and use tests, another to assistance people follow domestic and amicable issues they caring about and a third that uses synthetic comprehension and appurtenance training to assistance those with schizophrenia establish when they are experiencing hallucinations.

People come adult to Southworth and say: Your app stopped me from murdering myself. One user told her the app helped her after a rape. A monitor during a tech limit confided that if her crony had had a Verena app, that chairman competence still be alive.

Stories of suicide, like that of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, whose song helped Southworth through dark passages in her life, still haunt her.

“Maybe if we worked a small harder on this,” she said. “I could have gotten assistance to him or to someone else meditative about suicide.”

Follow USA TODAY comparison record author Jessica Guynn on Twitter @jguynn