Launching Lifeline’s Online Crisis Support Chat service yesterday, the Federal Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, said the service would be of great benefit to men and younger people, who were less likely to seek help in person or over the phone, and people in areas where conventional services were not available. Four in five Australians were using the internet to seek health information, he said.
Lifeline began trialling the service last year. The federal health department funded an evaluation of the service, which connects people with trained workers via text-based, one-on-one online chat. While only 6 per cent of the users of Lifeline’s telephone service were assessed as at high risk of suicide, 57 per cent of users of the online service were assessed as at high risk. More than a third of users of the online service said they would not use a telephone crisis service.
The online service had a much younger age profile, with 58 per cent of its users being younger than 25, compared to only 8 per cent of callers to the telephone service. The acting chief executive of Lifeline, Jane Hayden, said: ”The service is very discreet. We’ve found people are more likely to reveal that they’re having suicidal thoughts online. It’s easier to type it than to say it.”
The service will operate from 8pm to midnight seven days a week. Each night it will be staffed by 10 paid workers in Brisbane and Adelaide. The service is expected to provide support to 25,000 people each year.
As first appered on The Brisbane Times, 23 August 2012