Objective: Despite their widespread use, there is limited evidence on whether crisis lines are effective, how to identify callers at risk or the best ways of supporting callers to prevent suicide. This study compared the features of callers and call patterns in service users who had died by suicide with those who were currently alive from 2008 to 2011. Methods: Using information contained on Contact's (Northern Ireland's “Lifeline” service) Client Information Management System (CIMS), 118 deaths by suicide from 2008 to 2011 were compared with a matched control group (matched on age, gender, and main presenting issue on first contact) who had not died by suicide. Results: Clients who had “check-in” calls were significantly less likely to die by suicide. Those with a substance dependency or those who had made a prior suicide attempt were significantly more likely to die by suicide. Duration of service access had a negative association with suicide risk. Conclusions: “Check-in” calls are an important part of the service. Information on previous suicide attempts and substance dependency may be useful in identifying callers who may benefit from proactive support and outreach. Wider interventions are needed to promote service user follow-up and to encourage longer term engagement with the service.
- crisis line
- substance dependence