CRISIS LINES – WHAT DO THEY OFFER AND CAN THEY PREVENT SUICIDES?
Crisis lines operate in many countries around the world and are often promoted as convenient points of contact for people in distress and despair, with the offer of non-judgemental, compassionate support. The ability of crisis lines to provide immediate relief and reduction in distress as well as checks for a person’s safety and wellbeing is established in research knowledge. Less is known about why people call crisis lines and what they are looking for from these services. This presentation will report on in-depth qualitative research about the experiences of callers to crisis lines and examine the implications for how crisis lines operate. The importance of crisis lines being available for all people worldwide will also be discussed, noting the barriers that exist in some countries where suicide remains a crime and where strong social stigma and attitudes prevent people from easily seeking help in times of personal crisis.
Alan Woodward has worked in mental health, crisis support and suicide prevention for 20 years as an executive leader, policy advisor, evaluator, and researcher. He is an expert on crisis lines and related online or digital support services. He led service improvement and quality assurance for Lifeline Australia and established the Lifeline Research Foundation. He has assisted crisis lines in several countries with their establishment or enhancement and now works as an advisor for Lifeline International. Dr Woodward undertook research on the experiences of those who call crisis lines for his PhD Thesis. He also holds a Masters Degree in Social Science and Policy, a Business Degree, and a Diploma in Arts/Communication.