Foundation praises extension of suicide helpline

Wednesday 22 February 2012, 8:40AM
By Mental Health Foundation

An extension of hours at Lifeline Aotearoa’s national suicide prevention helpline is being praised by the Mental Health Foundation as a valuable extension to support services.

“It can be extremely frightening and distressing to experience strong suicidal thoughts,” says Judi Clements, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation. “Asking for help, and having the right support at your fingertips where the person being asked is able to respond appropriately is crucial.”

The special line, 0508 TAUTOKO (8288656) is open from 12 midday to 12 midnight, seven days a week. Calls are answered by qualified mental health professionals.

“Talking about suicide with a suicidal person does not increase their risk, ignoring their distress can,” says Judi Clements. “For the person who’s been struggling with those kinds of thoughts, having an opportunity to talk to somebody who’s going to listen to them non-judgmentally can be a great relief.”

The extension of the helpline’s hours coincides with the launch of a 3-month television suicide prevention campaign on Maori Television called “Start The Conversation Today”.

The Foundation says the campaign highlights that we all have a role to play in suicide prevention.

“All of us are in a position to notice behaviour changes, somebody who’s struggling, or to reach out to somebody who may be experiencing difficulties,” says Judi Clements. “Those are primary opportunities to prevent suicide, which is why staying connected with friends, family and whanau is so important.

“Silence around suicide only contributes to the shame and stigma to these feelings that people experience. Talking does help, and can save lives.”