Technology for social justice

Assistance in times of crisis

World Suicide Prevention Day, held annually on 10 September, is dedicated to raising awareness about suicide prevention and promoting a deeper understanding of this complex and sensitive issue. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men under the age of 44 and women under 34.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 2,132 deaths due to suicide in 2009, however, suicide rates are under-reported and figures could be as high as 2,500 a year. Often people feel poorly equipped to talk about suicide, assist people in vulnerable situations or support the families and friends of suicide victims.

Connecting people to services that support them in times of crisis is one way to help with suicide prevention.

Lifeline is a familiar name to most of us and provides free access to crisis support for any kind of problem that is overwhelming a person’s capacity to cope 24 hours a day,  days a week. Many Lifeline telephone crisis supporters work on a voluntary basis, and with a new call made to the service every minute, the support that they provide to people across Australia is invaluable.

Our Service Seeker team has been working collaboratively with Lifeline to develop a customised database to connect people in crisis with relevant health, welfare and community services.

The Service Seeker database developed for Lifeline is available online to the general public through Service Finder and the data is also used to assist telephone crisis supporters help people in crisis via a specially designed referral system.

The database provides telephone crisis supporters convenient access to relevant services in the health and welfare sector, but has also been extended to include services that facilitate social inclusion and promote emotional wellbeing.

Asking for help can be a difficult first step to take and Service Seeker enables telephone crisis supporters to connect people with the services that provide long-term support, which is crucial to increased emotional well-being. “Without a good referral database we would be unable to refer our help-seekers to essential services,” says Ann Evans, Crisis Support Practice Adviser at Lifeline.

“Without a good referral database we would be unable to refer our help-seekers to essential services,” says Ann Evans, Crisis Support Practice Adviser at Lifeline.

Robyn Karlsen, Manager of Service Seeker, has been working with Infoxchange on the development of community service directories for over 20 years. Service Seeker now holds over 290 000 records of health and welfare agencies and services that are efficiently returned through a number of intuitive search methods.

“The Lifeline dataset developed through Service Seeker is a great example of how electronic databases are a superior way of storing and accessing information. Data can be easily accessed by multiple users and kept current with remote access updates, which is crucial to connecting people in crisis with the right service and information,” says Robyn.

Suicide prevention takes whole-of-community approach. Lifeline believes suicides are mostly preventable and we all have a role to play.

While telephone crisis supporters and those who work in other crisis services are at forefront of suicide prevention, connecting people with community services can help to support improved service delivery for the ultimate benefit of people seeking help.

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Filed in: Mental health | Tagged as: Service directories

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