Suicidal thoughts have always been associated with loneliness. Even in the presence of friends and loved ones, someone can feel alone in his or her own thoughts and become convinced that nobody understands. While telephone hotlines and Websites provide assistance, they may not be ideal options since someone can overhear a conversation or sneak up behind a computer screen.
However, technology gives us new ways to communicate, and there is hope for those who need help with their suicidal thoughts while maintaining quiet and anonymity. Text-based suicide hotlines are becoming more popular and represent a viable alternative to the conventional methods of getting help. Though this medium is not available in many areas yet, the success of the text-based resources that currently exist should give rise to increased availability and popularity.
The New Jersey suicide hotline has offered text messaging functionality for the past ten months, during which time the center has helped more than 500 people deal with their thoughts and feelings. It’s an ideal solution in today’s environment, where many people feel more comfortable communicating through text messages. Not only does this type of communication ensure nobody can overhear a phone call, but it also puts users in a position of comfort. People can type the things they cannot say, which results in a better experience for both the hotline and the user.
There are some kinks to work out with the text messaging option, specifically that it’s not a 24/7 hotline just yet. (The New Jersey hotline turns on text messaging three days a week in the late afternoon and evening hours.) It’s clear, though, that this is the wave of the future, and that suicide hotlines will have the ability to help many more people in an environment that is safe and anonymous. Most importantly, those who need help will be able to get it without looking over their shoulders.