New anonymous life-saving text service launched

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A free, 24-7 anonymous text service has been launched to provide support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis.

The text service, 50808, is a first of its kind for Ireland and provides everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people in need.

“Many people – particularly young people – don’t feel comfortable making that call or reaching out for help,” East Galway TD Ciarán Cannon said.

“This is a service that will offer a lifeline to people of all ages across Galway and indeed throughout the country.

“It’s been an exceptionally difficult time for our country, and this service is needed more than ever. There is no doubt the launch of 50808 by Crisis Text Line will save lives.”

The text service has been in development for some time, and Minister Cannon said that it couldn’t have launched at a more important moment.

“The service’s trained Crisis Volunteers will help people through this current crisis and will continue to provide free, 24/7 support in the long term,” he explained.

He said that this life-saving service is part of the government’s strategy to protect the mental health of all members of the public and commended his colleagues for prioritising this essential service.

“Since the initiative began its pilot in September last year, it has provided support to 3,801 people through 6,694 conversations. It is expected that ‘50808 will support over 50,000 people each year once fully operational.

“The service uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyse a texter’s initial message, scanning keywords, phrases, and even emojis to determine the level of severity. The texter’s at most imminent risk are placed at the top of the queue,” he added.

50808 has performed over 100 ‘Active Rescues’ since beginning in pilot phase in September 2019 in which the National Ambulance Service is contacted for a texter in need of emergency support.

The service allows trained Crisis Volunteers to volunteer from home. Crisis Volunteers complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time mental health professionals.