Sept. 20th-22nd, 2019, CAREUM, Zurich, Switzerland

Challenge A

Trua – Helping people in crisis with compassion

(Trua is the Irish word for compassion)


Take a moment to think of the worst things that could happen to you in your life – the loss of a loved one, the loss of your job, the loss of your home. Don’t read on until you have thought of at least two things.

I’d like you imagine that both of these things have happened to you at the same time. Who would you turn to? What would you do if you had no family or friends? How would you cope without any support?


Thousands of people across Europe find themselves in this position every day. Many of them have an existing mental illness or psychological problem that makes coping with stress difficult, even when they are not in crisis.

Some of these people will commit suicide, and we as citizens lose their potential forever. The families they leave behind may never recover. There are huge economic costs too – one single suicide costs an estimated $1.3m.

Many people will look to emergency services like the police, ambulance services, or emergency departments in hospital for help, but will find that these services have few, if any, answers for them.

We have to do better.

Actual Challenge

We have to find a different way of helping people prevent a crisis happening in the first place, to get through one if it does happen, to learn from each crisis, to plan for the next one and to learn from each occurrence.

My challenge is in the form of questions for you to think about.

How could someone monitor their mood and identify the early warning signs of too much stress? How do we identify triggers for crisis? How can we help people to plan ahead to prevent crisis, or for what to do when a crisis does occur? How can we connect a person in crisis to peers and supporters who are available to help them through? How do we connect the person to the right services at the right time? How do we help people to learn from difficult experiences so that they can use this learning if they get to crisis point again.


To solve this problem we need to hear from people who have been in crisis before, to ask them what would help in the future. We need expertise in resilience, suicide prevention and crisis management. We will need designers, developers.


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