If you need to talk, there’s a Lifeline, online
Mental health advocates - including Patrick McGorry and SA coroner Mark Johns - have called for a public toll, similar to the road toll, to highlight suicides. Meanwhile, a spate of suicides - including the death of a doctor who was a mental health advocate - have renewed fears the sector is unable to cope. Lifeline and News Digital Media, publisher of The Punch, today announce a project that will help Australians access online, anonymous, confidential support.
With suicide being the leading cause of death for young Australians, you think that you’d find a plethora of information and support online to help those in crisis.
Suicide kills more Australians than road accidents each year. In 2008, 2191 people took their own lives, while the road toll was below 1450. These figures don’t include the tens of thousands more who attempt taking their own lives each year. Nor do these figures include the hundreds of thousands of people who are either bereaved or contemplating suicide, or both.
Once you’re aware of the numbers, it’s even more alarming to realise that for people looking for online support to help deal with serious crisis issues such as mental health and suicide, the internet offers little in actual services.
According to the Nielsen Australian Online Consumer Report released this week, Australians now spend an average of 21 hours and 42 minutes online each week, so shouldn’t there be an easy way to access counselling and support services online?
The internet can undoubtedly be a dangerous place for youths and adults alike. The rise of cyber bullying highlights the need for online support through times of crisis as well as providing a digital safe haven where support is offered in a non-judgemental and anonymous environment.
The recent video that went viral of a schoolyard fight in which a child body-slams the boy who has been bullying him, and the prevailing negative comments and backlash, show how quickly things can escalate when put on the internet.
For Lifeline, one of Australia’s leading crisis support organisations, the online world is now looking like the future of crisis support in Australia.
And with many young Australians being digital natives - that is those who have been brought up with digital technology and have been interacting with digital technology from an early age - it’s important to have something that is online and works for that market.
Offering a different medium that is relevant and more appealing to a younger audience might allow Lifeline to reach out and help more people in crisis than ever before.
Lifeline is looking to begin filling the gaps now appearing on the internet with a online chat service that offers support to anyone experiencing a crisis. It will be very much like an electronic version of our 24-hour telephone crisis line, 13 11 14.
To test the waters, Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat will be running on a trial basis from today until 30 June 2011, between the hours of 8pm and 12 midnight, seven days a week.
Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat offers one-to-one sessions with a trained counsellor. Using technology similar to msn or Yahoo messenger, people can chat about issues ranging from mental health, stress and relationship breakdown to suicide. This online service will almost certainly save lives, by offering people who may not be comfortable calling Lifeline’s 13 14 11 telephone service a different medium to connect anonymously with trained counsellors.
To access Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat go to Lifeline or for crisis support on the phone call 13 11 14.
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