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Safety NET: How Staying Connected Saves Lives

by fajriansyah on 03/05/12 at 10:57 pm

It’s 2012 and, as many lament technology’s role in the death of conversation, we must cherish technology’s role in bringing us together.

SAFETY NET: How staying connected saves lives Rural online chat

Lifeline hopes to reach out to people in remote areas who have limited access to help. Picture: ThinkStock

Lifeline chat stats

Nearly half of Lifeline’s chat users are from remote areas of the country. Picture: Aurelie Perthius, news.com.au.

WE live our lives on the internet. It’s what we do.

It’s 2012 and, as many lament technology’s role in the death of conversation, we must cherish technology’s role in bringing us together.

Nine in 10 young Australians use the internet daily. That’s a fact. Here’s another: Suicide is the leading cause – at a rate of one in four – of death among men aged 15-24.

This is where online mental healthcare, or “e-care”, comes in. Services like Lifeline’s online crisis chat help people communicate, in 2012 and beyond, in a way they understand and in a manner they feel comfortable.

Young Australians who think about suicide are strongly opposed to seeking help. In fact, one in four young Australians experience a mental illness, yet 70 per cent of them will never seek help. That’s why mental health organisations are adapting, and moving the mountain to Mohamed.

Reaching new people

Lifeline’s trials revealed that more than a third of those who used their online chat service would not seek help from other modes.

The bottom line is this: services like Lifeline’s Online Crisis Support Chat Service are reaching people that would otherwise be at risk of slipping through the cracks. One in three people told us exactly that.

This strong preference for online crisis support is significant but also unsurprising and reiterates the imperative for mental healthcare services to invest in technology.

Lifeline’s service can connect people in need for $31. This provides roughly an hour of counselling, which can be enough to save a person’s life.

Mark, a Lifeline online crisis supporter, told news.com.au he personally spoke to a high number of people in need who, without an online service, would not have otherwise sought help.

“We’re reaching people with some really significant issues who haven’t reached out before,” he said.

“It’s a first safe step for them to ask for help and for them to take that first step. Often that’s a younger demographic.”

Lifeline users The range of issues reported by Lifeline crisis support users. Picture: Aurelie Perthius, news.com.au

Generation Tech

On the subject of technology’s role in confronting suicide, blogger Mia Freedman wrote:

“(My friend) thinks more public discussion about suicide (and especially the mental illnesses that cause it such as depression) is crucial. According to Michael Carr-Gregg, it can be a powerful medium where marginalised, disaffected, disaffiliated young people at risk of suicide are able to come into contact with support at sites such as Beyondblue.org.au. And psychologists are increasingly moving into cyberspace with counselling sessions by kidshelpline and reachout now available online.”

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