I NEED HELP: TEEN SUICIDE PREVENTION
Help Me: Suicidal Thoughts
Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was crashing down on you and there was nowhere for you to turn and help, or no one who would listen?
Many of us have felt like this at some point in our lives, and you’re not alone in feeling like it can be hard to find someone to talk to about what’s going on and how you feel. Reaching out and asking for help when you feel alone, depressed, have suicidal thoughts or scared can be the toughest part. But the good thing is, there are people you can talk to – and you can even find support on-line when you’re going through a tough time.
What is Online Crisis Support?
You might already know about phone hotlines that you can call when you need to talk to someone – numbers like 1-800-SUICIDE or your local crisis center. Caring people, often volunteers, are available to provide free, confidential, non-judgemental support and help talk you through a difficult problem.
But you may not know that many crisis centres around the world now offer online support for youth and adults who are going through challenges and are more comfortable talking to someone by typing out their thoughts and feelings through online chat, email or instant messaging.
Advantages of Online Support
Many youth today have grown up talking to each other online, so you may already feel more comfortable seeking help on-line rather than over the phone, and there are other advantages to on-line support as well.
With typing, you don’t have to worry about someone overhearing what you’re saying or listening in on a call, so it can feel more anonymous. Many people find they are also able to be more honest with themselves and others when they are writing down how they feel as opposed to saying it out loud.
On-line crisis volunteers are highly trained, compassionate people who can provide you with emotional support during a tough time.
They can also help connect you with local resources if needed, like counselling or mental health services.
Is Online Support for Me?
No matter what issue is troubling you, on-line crisis support may help you identify your feelings and work through your problem with someone who cares and wants to help you.
Although no situation is the same, some common concerns that youth may contact a crisis line about include relationships, stress and anxiety, depression, issues with family and friends, drugs and alcohol, sexuality, self-harm or thoughts of suicide.
Crisis lines encourage you to contact them before a problem gets out of hand and becomes a potentially dangerous situation, so remember that no issue is too small to reach out for help.
Many organizations and crisis centres worldwide now offer on-line crisis services. However, it is important to exercise caution when seeking online support, just as you would with other interactions on and offline.
First, make sure that you are seeking help from a trusted organization like the ones listed below.
Your best bet is to stick to those listed by other verified government or social service websites and to do some research into the organization if you’re not sure.
Second, protect your privacy and personal information.
Make sure you are logging on from a secure computer. Don’t post personal information on a public forum or give out information to someone you don’t trust.
Even though on-line crisis supports can be a great resource, remember that they shouldn’t replace getting help from a professional when needed. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or at risk of suicide or self-harm, contact your local police or go to your nearest emergency room for help.
How to Get Help Online
For youth in Calgary and Southern Alberta, ConnecTeen (a program of Distress Centre Calgary) offers online peer-support chat daily from 5-10 pm at www.CalgaryConnecTeen.com. For less urgent situations, you can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive a response within 24-48 hours. 24-hour support is also available over the phone at 403-264-TEEN (8336).
With ConnecTeen, you don’t have to worry about talking to an adult or a professional – you can talk directly with a youth volunteer who is between 15 and 21 years old, someone who understands your unique perspectives and what you’re going through.
In Northern Alberta, The Support Network’s Crisis Support Centre offers daily online crisis chat through www.CrisisSupportCentre.com. You can also phone 780-482-HELP (4357) 24 hours a day.
For a list of other crisis centres across Canada, visit www.suicideprevention.ca/in-crisis-now.
For a list of on-line crisis services and crisis centres worldwide, visit www.unsuicide.wikispaces.com.