Sector update: Global research affirms the value of crisis lines

  • Sector update: Global research affirms the value of crisis lines image

May 2023

Part of the work LifeLine International is to identify emerging international research, trends and best practice to support our Members’ lifesaving work across every region. Members have access to research summaries developed by our policy team and available through the Members Portal

Three recent studies have reinforced the value of crisis lines in building stronger pathways to support in the suicide prevention ecosystem, particularly in the early intervention stages.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds globally, with more than 700,000 people taking their lives each year. Despite this, the ability to predict who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts has not improved in over 50 years.

A study conducted by Deakin University found that less than half of those who think about or attempt suicide disclose it to someone else. Given disclosure is such an important step towards seeking support, this troubling finding demonstrates the value and importance of varied, accessible access to support.

In a piece for the Conversation, research lead David John Hallford says a lack of confidence in expressing oneself is a significant barrier, as some people avoid thinking or talking about suicidal thoughts as their main way of coping. He says having more social support can increase the likelihood of disclosing suicidal thoughts.

Crisis lines provide an important tool for those who wish to disclose but find it difficult to confide in those in their social network. There is strong value in the immediate, confidential opportunities for disclosure of suicidal thoughts or attempts offered by crisis line centres across the world (more than 200 of which are operated by LifeLine International Members).

The value of our Members’ work has also been supported by recently released data from China’s largest suicide prevention hotline, which shows calls are a positive pathway to healthcare for those struggling with distress and suicidal ideation.

Conducted between 2015 and 2017, studies of this data have found crisis lines are a feasible and effective service for the identification of persons who may benefit from more targeted suicide prevention supports.

A smaller study in the US builds on this, too. It found that after the call, 599 callers to the US Veterans Crisis Line were six times more likely to make contact with any healthcare service and 10 times more likely to contact mental health services in the month following the contact.

LifeLine International believes that suicide, everywhere in the world, can be prevented. These three studies reaffirm the value of crisis lines as a tool to prevent suicide and support those who are contemplating, or who have attempted suicide.

Free, volunteer-run and community-based services are vital for communities across the globe and we are proud that LifeLine International Members are at the forefront of providing global relief from distress, and de-escalation of suicidality – the first step in our mission to save lives.