Our charity of choice this month – Lifeline – has made positive step forward recently by taking their crisis services online. Known for their 24/7 phone support for those seeking help, Lifeline volunteers are now available via Crisis Support Chat from 8pm-midnight every day.
Lifeline’s Project Manager of Online Services, Fay Mound, said the online chat service had been in the pipeline for several years after more and more people requested an alternative to the crisis line.
“It’s a personal preference really, some people don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone they prefer the anonymity of conversing online,” Fay explained.
Similar to Yahoo or Instant Messaging, people in crisis can simply log on to ‘Crisis Support Chat’ and talk to a Lifeline volunteer in real time. The service is in place to act as short-term, confidential support for people who are having difficulty coping.
The trial is expected to run until June, 2011 when Lifeline will examine the potential to make the online service a permanent addition to their communication methods. With an average of 2500 suicide deaths per year between 1999 and 2008 and the average Australian spending more than 21 hours online each week, the need for an online crisis service seems paramount.
“It all depends on whether we have enough funding, volunteers and infrastructure and supervision of the software but we would certainly love to continue the online chat program,” Fay said.
In the efforts to help out, iiNet staff have been raising funds for Lifeline as part of their Charity of the Month initiative. They will continue shaking their charity tins around the office until the end of April. So far staff efforts have seen more than $600 raised for the cause.