|An important feature often found in depression management and suicide prevention apps is the inclusion of a crisis helpline telephone number that would ideally activate a telephone call directly through the app.|
As part of our assessment, we checked the accuracy and functionality of the telephone numbers provided by the apps. Six apps, (two apps available in Android and iOS, and two Android apps) provided crisis helpline telephone numbers that were either non-existent (dummy number), non-functional (dialed number failed to connect users to the helpline), or the number provided was linked to an organization offering non-evidence-based treatments. Two of these apps, available in both app stores, had been downloaded more than one million times each. We informed app developers of our findings and two popular apps have since rectified the errors.
Providing an uncontactable phone number, particularly to people going through an emergency, potentially risks the lives of highly vulnerable people and constitutes a severe breach of ethical standards.