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IASP Special Interest Group on Helplines Best Practices

Rationale:
Helplines continue to play a vital role in suicide prevention, often attracting suicidal help seekers and providing an opportunity to de-escalate suicidal states, explore and reduce distress related to specific crisis issues in a person's life and provide referrals to other services and broader health and community supports. Helplines are often featured in national suicide prevention strategies. In the past ten years, the research on helplines operations and effectiveness has developed, while further work on research, quality standards and measures of performance and effectiveness is warranted. Recent growth and development of online support services and social media outreach, utilising similar principles and techniques to traditional helplines, also requires research, policy and practice attention towards optimal suicide prevention.

Objectives:
To pursue a shared interest in Helplines and related online and social media services for suicide prevention, with a view to making a substantive contribution to improved understanding, practice or policy relating to their operation, effectiveness and impact.

Plans for 2016:

  1. To review priority areas of interest in consultation with membership (via online survey-best practices for crisis contact services, performance measures, innovative online crisis intervention approaches, specialty services, etc.)
  2. To reconfigure the online forum to better align to priority areas of interest and to support informal exchange of information and experiences between SIG members.
  3. To review and checking of SIG membership and implementation of IASP Policy that SIG Members are also members of IASP.

Membership note:
We are looking for people who are interested in working with us to progress this very important work. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact the SIG Co-Chairs.

Co-chair contact details:
Alan Woodward: Alan.Woodward@lifeline.org.au; John Draper: johnd@mhaofnyc.org.

John Draper:
Dr. Draper has over 25 years of experience in crisis intervention and suicide prevention work, and is considered one of the America's leading experts in crisis contact center practices (hotline, online chat, SMS services, etc.). Dr. Draper provided clinical leadership to a mobile crisis team for 7 years before establishing an award-winning 24/7 crisis hotline service in 1996 that was also central to the nation's largest-ever disaster mental health response following 9/11. Since 2004, Dr. Draper has been the Director of the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK), overseeing all aspects of this service. Dr. Draper is also the primary Lifeline liaison to both SAMHSA and the Veterans Crisis Line. In addition, Dr. Draper is President of Link2Health Solutions (L2HS), a wholly-owned affiliate of the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC). As President of L2HS, Dr. Draper and L2HS staff administers other national networks of crisis services, including the National Football League's (NFL) Life Line and the SAMHSA-funded Disaster Distress Helpline. Dr. Draper has served on three task forces for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and is an active faculty member of the Alliance's Zero Suicide Academy. Dr. Draper earned his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia Counseling Psychology Department in 1996. Dr. Draper has also maintained a private psychotherapy practice in New York City since 2000, working with individuals and couples.

Dr John Draper

Alan Woodward:
Alan has worked in the field of crisis support and suicide prevention for 15 years. He is the Executive Director for the Lifeline Research Foundation in Australia, working with academic and professional experts to build the evidence base for Lifeline Australia crisis support services, and to translate research knowledge into best practices for crisis support and community based suicide prevention.

Alan has led service development for the Lifeline Australia 13 11 14 crisis line, participated in the development of Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat and conducted policy advocacy on suicide prevention with particular attention to crisis intervention. He has been a Board Director for Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) since 2009 and contributed to the establishment of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention in Australia and the development of the National Research Plan on Suicide Prevention.

He has a long-term interest in the use of evaluation methods to inform program improvements in suicide prevention; he is an experienced evaluator and a Past President of the Australasian Evaluation Society.

Alan sits on several advisory bodies including the NSW Mental Health Commission Community Advisory Council and the RUOK? Day Scientific Committee. He has participated in the steering committee to establish the World Alliance of Crisis Helplines, which is seeking official recognition from World Health Organisation. Alan is also a PhD Candidate through the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, undertaking research on the experience and impact of Lifeline telephone crisis line on callers through a longitudinal study of a cohort of callers. Alan holds a Master's Degree in Social Science and Policy, a Business Degree in Public Administration and a Diploma in Arts/Communications.

Alan Woodward