Amid a Rising Tide of Suicide, Tech Offers New Ways of Prevention

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The origins of most tech companies usually involve some combination of creativity, ambition, and technical know-how — the offspring of brilliant brains. It’s less typical for a tech company to be birthed not only from the mind, but also the heart. For HarrisLogic, that is an apt description.

The beginnings of the Missouri-based company can be traced back to the early 1980s and a pivotal moment in the life of Bill Harris, the company’s founder and at the time an engineer at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas.

“He became a house father for troubled youth,” says Hudson Harris, Bill Harris’ son and chief engagement officer at HarrisLogic. “And that experience shifted the arc of his career.”

Harris Sr. went on to get an M.A. in social work and began providing mental health services to underserved communities in Missouri, Illinois, and Texas. But he always stayed true to a mindset honed during his career at tech giants of the mid-20st century Westinghouse and Texas Instruments, as well as the principles of design and process improvement.

Cut to the late 1990s, and HarrisLogic was born.

“The goal was to see how we could start using some of the emerging technology of the time in mental health,” says Harris. It was a need the Harris family recognized all too well. “Back then, as now, mental health was kind of left out when it comes to medical care.”

HarrisLogic was designed to engineer new solutions, marrying technology and science with on-the-ground and face-to-face services to meet the needs of people in crisis.

These days, HarrisLogic’s technology suite is used in multiple areas, from criminal justice to education. At the heart of the software that powers those solutions is a platform first built to address a longtime focus for the company: suicide prevention. Called StellaCrisis, the name is derived from its first iteration, when it was called Constellation to evoke points of light. The platform is used to tackle myriad needs: It is a screening and triage tool, a guided documentation tool, and a means for gathering data that help improve the tools and recommendations the platform now delivers. In other words, its inputs help to improve its outputs.

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