Health Team

New IM service for teens considering suicide

Posted January 19
Updated January 20

— Although the suicides of teen couple Spenser Garrison, 16, and Malia Porter, 15, made headlines this month, they are not alone.

In 2011-2012, the state Division of Public Health reported 392 teens attempted to take their lives.

“The third leading cause of death for ages 15-24 is suicide, and I wish they had the opportunity to talk to somebody about it,” said Margaux Austin, executive director of Hopeline.

Hopeline is a Triangle-based nonprofit offering free suicide prevention and crisis intervention services.

The organization recently started a confidential online instant messaging service to target those more comfortable with communicating electronically.

“You don’t have to tell us your name or any information, but we’re really there as a support system to talk about whatever is going on in your life, whether it’s thinking about suicide or struggling with depression,” Austin said.

The service, which could potentially help teens, has presented new challenges for crisis counselor volunteers.

“Switching from talking on the phone with somebody and being able to pick up on the signals and their tone of voice and what they’re saying to us and how they’re saying it and being able to read through that to where they’re just typing to us,” Austin said.

The teen chat line is currently accessible through teentalklinenc.org and will soon be connected to Hopeline’s website. The chat line is available from 4-11 p.m. every day. The organization hopes to expand those hours once more volunteers are trained.

Hopeline is available 24 hours a day by phone at 919­-231-­4525 or toll free at 877-­235­-4525.

1 Comment

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  • meganhans3 Jan 20, 3:51 p.m.

    I am very glad WRAL reported on this very important story. However, by abbreviating the words 'instant messaging' in the headlines, you are bound to lose a few page views, because not everyone knows what 'IM' means.