IASP Special Interest Group on Helplines Best Practices

The Helplines SIG exists to facilitate exchanges of information and research across helplines services. 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.

Several SIG members are interested in exploring the collection and use of data by helplines for research and service improvement purposes. The SIG will promote and share emerging research findings on the effectiveness and impact of helplines.

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.

Membership note:
The membership of the Helplines SIG includes approximately 50 persons representing more than 30 helplines and various research organisations throughout the world. A Facebook Group to enable Helpline SIG Members to communicate and share information and expertise has been established. 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 : Dr. Gillian Murphy is the Asst. Deputy Director for the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where she oversees development of clinical best practices in suicide prevention for crisis hotlines engaged in telephone/chat/text based services. Dr. Murphy has over 25 years of experience in crisis intervention and suicide prevention and has worked in a wide range of clinical settings. Dr. Murphy provides clinical supervision and training in crisis management, and the assessment and support of those at risk of suicide, and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in NYC.

Co-Chair : Dr. Elizabeth Scowcroft has worked in suicide prevention for the last decade and is currently the Head of Research and Evaluation at Samaritans UK, leading a programme of action focused research and data analysis, with the ultimate aim of informing policy and practice so that fewer people reach the point where they take their own lives. Dr. Scowcroft is passionate about using research to tell stories that help to create change. Dr. Scowcroft’s academic background is in psychology, and her doctoral research focused on understanding the psychological factors related to suicide. 

SIG Coordinator : Ms. Alena Goldstein is the Program Manager of Research & Evaluation for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where she oversees the implementation of helpline evaluations, in addition to national and international research collaborations. Prior to joining the Lifeline and over the past seven years, Ms. Goldstein has worked with investigators on CDC & NIH-funded public health studies. Ms. Goldstein has her MPH in Community Health Education and is interested in novel interventions to promote mental and emotional health and prevent suicide.

If you would like to join this SIG, please contact us.