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Lifeline provides vital support to people in crisis - McGimpsey

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has welcomed the opening of the new Contact Youth Lifeline Office in Londonderry.

Lifeline is a regional helpline staffed by trained counsellors who are experienced in dealing with suicide, self-harm, abuse, trauma, depression and anxiety.

Welcoming the opening of the new Lifeline Office in Londonderry, Michael McGimpsey said: “The Lifeline service is a vital resource for people in crisis or despair. Since I established the Lifeline 24/7 crisis response helpline in January 2008, it has received in the region of 120,000 calls. That is around 200 calls every single day.

“Suicide is a terrible tragedy which devastates many families across Northern Ireland each year, and it is everyone’s responsibility to try to prevent it. People often say that if they discuss their problem it never seems as bad because they can find ways of resolving issues. Lifeline provides this support through in-depth counseling and referral to appropriate services.”

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) is providing up to £3.5million for the Lifeline service, which is now an integral part of the drive against suicide in Northern Ireland.

The Minister continued: “Lifeline is now a major player in our fight against suicide. Not only does it provide a frontline service, it also engages with community groups and collaborates with the statutory sector in support of people who are in severe emotional crisis.

“I secured an additional £48million for mental health services over 2008/11 and this additional resource has helped to fund Lifeline. I remain committed to doing all I can to reduce suicide rates in Northern Ireland.”

Lifeline can be contacted on tel: 0808 808 8000 and lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are free from all landlines and mobile phones.

Notes to editors:

  1. The regional lifeline service was established following a successful pilot in North and West Belfast in 2006/2007.
  2. The service is provided by Contact Youth and is available to all age-groups, and their families and friends.
  3. Since Lifeline was established in January 2008, the helpline has received in the region of 120,000 calls.
  4. Gender breakdown of callers tends to be 30-50% males and 40-60% female.
  5. Age profile of callers tends to be 50-60% over 25 and 40-50% under 25.
  6. People who call Lifeline are answered by trained counselors who are available 24/7 to provide help and support in the strictest confidence. They can deal with issues such as suicide, self-harm, abuse, trauma, anxiety and depression.
  7. Lifeline provides immediate help over the phone line and can arrange appointments for counselling or other therapies in local areas. The counsellors can also put callers in contact with follow-up services to ensure they receive the best possible response to their needs.”
  8. Lifeline also gives support and guidance to families and carers and concerned friends.
  9. Press enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 90520575. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.