Wednesday 24 May 2017

Text line a breakthrough in male suicide prevention

'When people are experiencing this level of crisis, they sometimes find it easier to type than to talk'
'When people are experiencing this level of crisis, they sometimes find it easier to type than to talk'

Sam Griffin

A leading mental health organisation believes a major breakthrough has been made in suicide prevention among young Irish men.

The development of a text helpline for people considering taking their life by Console has resulted in a massive increase in the number of people seeking help.

The charity says it recorded a 49pc increase in texts in the first six months of the year with young men, in particular, accessing crisis help through their mobile devices for the first time.

Almost two-thirds of the 3,914 texts received on the organisation's professionally-staffed 51444 line came from men.

Internationally, women tend to outnumber men in terms of seeking such supports by up to three times in some cases, according to the charity.

"Males are four times more likely to take their own lives, but up to this point, no one has been able to reach them in numbers," Console CEO Paul Kelly said.

"For example, 61pc of the steadily increasing 3,400 monthly calls to our free 1800 247 247 helpline come from females, (which is) almost a direct reversal of the text statistics."

He said the 49pc increase in contacts, compared with the 2014 figure of 2,617, was "almost exclusively" because of young men who are using their mobiles as a way of opening initial communication with Console's services.

Rapport

"Some texters may be about to take their own lives or at the stage of having it planned down to the fine details with a firm intent on following through with it," Mr Kelly said. "When people are experiencing this level of crisis, they sometimes find it easier to type than to talk."

He said the trained professionals, who man the Console helpline 24 hours a day, often establish a rapport with people calling in and this is then transferred to verbal communication in many cases.

Mental health expert Enda Murphy hailed the latest figures as a breakthrough in suicide prevention.

"Console are communicating to young men in their way and not insisting that they learn and communicate in our way. I believe that they have found the road to the future," he said.

Console offers the 51444 text line and a 24-hour helpline on Freephone 1800 247 247

Irish Independent

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