Demand for Lifeline WA's digital support up 40 percent leading into Christmas
13 December 2023
Demand for Lifeline WA’s digital crisis support over the last five months is up 40 per cent compared to the same period last year as the suicide prevention agency heads into an unprecedented busy Christmas/New Year period.
Crippling cost of living pressures, family estrangement, grief and loneliness mean more people are reaching out to the organisation via text or chat than ever before for help to get them through the festive season.
With its Digital Crisis Support team stretched beyond capacity, Lifeline WA has welcomed a much-needed boost from Mineral Resources (MinRes) with the leading WA resources company committing $450,000 to train 300 new Digital Crisis Supporters over the next three years.
It is a significant contribution for Lifeline WA which operates the largest team of digital Lifeline crisis supporters in the country.
Lifeline WA CEO, Lorna MacGregor, said the MinRes partnership was critical to the expansion of the digital team so that the organisation could ensure no call for help went unanswered.
“We are enormously grateful to MinRes for enabling us to train many more crisis supporters when demand for our services continues to grow at an alarming rate year on year,” she said.
“Offering crisis support to the WA community via text or online chat, as well as by phone, is helping to ensure we are there anytime, anywhere, for those who need us.”
Ms MacGregor said while Lifeline WA thought it might see a decline in people reaching out by telephone when its digital service first launched in late 2021, calls have continued to rise.
“We believe people contacting us via text and chat are a new cohort of help seekers who are encouraged to connect due to the discreet nature of the digital service,” she said.
Each month, via SMS and online chat, Lifeline WA handles 5,000 - 6,000 conversations with people reaching out in their time of need, many on the edge of suicide.
The digital service is available for anyone to use, but currently about half of the people who reach out for crisis support via SMS or chat are under the age of 25 and 40 per cent of those are under 16.
People living with disabilities and those experiencing family and domestic violence are also among those reaching out to Lifeline WA via its digital service.
“Being able to reach out via text in a time of crisis can often be more discreet than picking up the phone, especially if like many young people, texting is second nature,” Ms MacGregor said.
MinRes Head of Mental Health, Chris Harris, said the company is proud to partner with Lifeline WA to help meet the demand for their Digital Crisis Support services.
“Demand for this digital service has soared as the cost of living continues to rise and we are committed to helping Lifeline WA meet this growing need,” he said.
“The team at Lifeline WA save lives every day and their services are so important at Christmas, when we know mental health challenges can be most acute.”
Lifeline WA would like to hear from people interested in training to become a Digital Crisis Supporter.
Training includes 10 weeks of comprehensive training, and it can take approximately two to three months to become a fully trained Digital Crisis Supporter.
To find out more, visit: https://wa.lifeline.org.au/get-involved/individual/volunteering/digital-crisis-support/
Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14 text 0477 13 11 14 online chat lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat
Carla Sherman, The PR Collaborative, firstname.lastname@example.org 0418 140 220.