Inspirational Woman: Alice Hendy | Founder, R;pple Suicide Prevention

Alice Hendy

Alice Hendy tragically lost her brother, Josh, on the 25th November 2020 from suicide. Josh was her only sibling, and sadly passed away too soon at just 21 years of age.

Alice’s day job involves working in IT and Cyber Security, with experience in working for global financial institutions and insurance firms in the city of London.

After examining Josh’s phone and laptop following his death, Alice found that Josh had been researching techniques to take his own life via internet searches, suicide forums and video tutorials.
The content available online following a harmful online search is far too readily available and fails to provide enough of an intervention between a user searching for harmful content and the subsequent display of the search results.

To ensure more help and support is given to individuals in mental health crisis and searching for harmful content online, Alice set up R;pple Suicide Prevention.

R;pple addresses the lack of intervention and instead provides an immediate, vibrant display on a user’s device once they have been flagged as searching for online content relating to self-harm or suicide.

R;pple is an online nudge technique which consists of a powerful message of hope, as well as providing a selection of mental health support resources in a range of different communicative options (call, text, webchat, self-help app, pocket resources).

Through R;pple, an individual feeling despair and researching harmful content will be urged to instead seek mental health support they deserve and need in a way that works best for them.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m Alice, 30 and living in Portsmouth, Hampshire. I work as a Cyber Security Specialist in London for a global insurance firm, and previously carried out similar roles in HSBC and Barclays. I have a dog called Reggie and my hobbies include football (I’m a big West Ham fan), drawing and reading autobiographies. I also recently set up a mental health charity which keeps me very busy!

You’re the founder of R;pple Suicide Prevention – could you tell us more about this and what it hopes to achieve?

I lost my only sibling, my brother Josh, on 25th November 2020 to suicide at 21 years old.

Josh had been researching techniques to take his own life via harmful internet searches. The content available online following a search of this nature currently provides mental health support in one format; a helpline.

To ensure more help and support is given to individuals searching for harmful content online, I set up R;pple Suicide Prevention.

R;pple is an online interceptive tool designed to ensure more help and support is provided to individuals who are conducting searches relating to self-harm or suicide.

R;pple provides an immediate, vibrant display on a user’s device once they have been flagged as searching for online content relating to self-harm or suicide, and consists of a message of hope as well as a selection of mental health resources in a range of different communicative options (call, text, webchat) from free, established and 24/7 charity services.

Conversations around mental health are so important – how can we get more people talking?

It’s so so important to talk about mental health and not shy away from the topic. Try checking in with your friends, family members and colleagues by asking them how they are – twice! Double check they are REALLY okay by asking again, it might just spark a conversation that needs to happen.

How can people download and use R;pple?

It’s so easy to download R;pple, even if you are wary of technology! I have created an instruction video which provides guidance on how to download the tool on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge in less than 60 seconds!

Once downloaded, it means that any user searching for content relating to self-harm or suicide will be redirected to a message of hope and a selection of mental health resources.

You recently won a Rising Star Award for your work – how did it feel when it was announced you’d won?

I’m still in shock. I was up against some inspirational and simply amazing human beings. For me to even be considered for a Rising Star Award was phenomenal, let alone win it! I felt very emotional when my name was announced. I set up R;pple in memory of my brother, Josh, so I feel like winning the award was a tribute to him.

Has anything happened in your career since winning the award?

Since winning the award, R;pple has gone from strength to strength. My tool has now officially launched and has been downloaded over 10,000 times, for free, by schools, colleges and universities across the UK.  I’m also working with businesses such as CISCO, Barclays, Sky, Network Rail and many more organisations to roll out R;pple across their workforce. It’s humbling and emotional to see so many organisations acknowledging the importance of R;pple.

Do you have any advice to give someone else going through the awards process?

Network! You’ll have the opportunity to connect with the most amazing and inspirational people. Connect with them, meet up with them and collaborate with them. It will enhance your journey and ensure you soak up knowledge and expertise from influential people.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

It’s okay to have setbacks. I’ve always been a ‘glass half empty’ person. Looking back, the setbacks I have received in my career have always ended up being learning opportunities and made me even more determined to succeed.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m hoping to take R;pple global. My mission is to ensure as many schools, colleges, universities and businesses integrate R;pple into their IT infrastructure. As far as I am concerned, the more people who adopt R;pple, the more people will be provided with mental health support at a time when they are most vulnerable.

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