At PM, we sometimes get asked to give our two cents or provide coaching during various initiatives. In November, I attended a hackathon by ‘vzw Tout bien – Okidoki?’ organized to come up with new and innovative ideas to prevent youth suicide. Although my role was minimal, I was touched by the event and the stories of those participating, which is why I wanted to write a few paragraphs about the initiative.
You see, as we go through our daily lives we often forget that Belgium is in the top 10 when it comes to suicide deaths and attempts. It’s the number one cause of death in our country for both youngsters and adults. In 2014, 3 people took their own life each day. We can’t ignore those numbers. The organizers of the hackathon were confronted with suicide themselves when their son unexpectedly took his own life in 2015. It’s admirable how they found the energy to transform these negative thoughts and feelings into a social project that supports people like their son and their friends, families and loved ones. This hackathon was one of their many initiatives.
During the first day, I got to join the group of coaches. It was a highly heterogenous group of people: there were doctors, psychologists, mental coaches, consultants, business developers, UX experts and so on. After we had lunch and introduced ourselves to more than 50 participants, we mingled and listened carefully to their ideas. As it takes a while to completely grasp their ideas and concepts, I mainly spent my time with two groups.
One group wanted to make a Tinder-like app teenagers could use to find organizations or clubs they could join. Their idea was mainly aimed at prevention: by making sure that young teenagers are engaged in their communities, they would likely have a lesser chance of feeling left out or isolated. The other group had a different idea. They wanted to build a website filled with content about not feeling okay. (As they put it: ‘it is completely okay to not feel okay’.) The group wanted to attract young teenagers that are not feeling well but haven’t quite figured out what they are feeling exactly. By tracking the user’s clicks on the website, they then wanted to show them tailored content and small games so the algorithm could figure out which kind of support that person would most likely need. This group really was into inbound marketing and already had some ideas set out to promote their platform through engaging content and influencer marketing. Both very different but interesting approaches.
Right before I had to leave, Minister of Health Jo Vandeurzen spoke to all participants and coaches as well. He talked about the importance of suicide awareness, confronted us with the latest data on suicide in our country and thanked everyone in the room for the hard work.
It was touching to see how all participants worked together during the day on this very difficult and emotionally loaded subject (mind you, most of them only got to know each other a few hours earlier!) and how so many coaches were there on a Saturday afternoon to listen and provide support. I myself learned a lot from fellow coaches and applaud both organization and participants for their impressive efforts during the hackathon.
I’d like to thank the organization for giving me the chance to be involved in this. Please visit http://www.heyhoegaathet.be to learn more about the initiative and how you can support.