24/7 SUICIDE PREVENTION TEXT MESSAGING SERVICE LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE ON WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY
The round-the-clock text messaging service provides free and confidential emotional support via WhatsApp to individuals in distress.
SINGAPORE – Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) has officially launched its second 24-hour service for individuals in distress. CareText, a WhatsApp text-messaging service manned by SOS’ trained volunteers and staff, provides round-the-clock support to those in need, serving as another resource to their 24-hour Hotline and CareMail, for anyone who prefers to share their struggles over text message.
First piloted in July 2020 on limited hours, CareText then widened its coverage to run 24/7 on a beta trial for the last eight months. In August 2022, SOS answered almost 1,800 chats, close to triple the number of chats received in August 2021. The increase in demand solidified SOS’ decision to transition CareText to WhatsApp, a platform that offers more convenience and accessibility for help-seeking within the community.
Based on the clients that CareText served, SOS observed an increase in chats from youths in distress, with 82% of clients aged 29 and below. More youths however, are also stepping up to play a part to support their peers, with 80% of SOS’ trained CareText volunteers also aged 29 and below.
Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of SOS, said: “Individuals who are in distress can text 9151 1767 for support via CareText on WhatsApp, with this number mirroring SOS’ 24-hour Hotline at 1-767 (1-SOS). We hope that this consistency, along with their round-the-clock availability, will make it more accessible for individuals in distress to reach out for support.”
As part of SOS’ efforts to raise awareness in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, SOS also held ‘Spark the Change Fest’ last Saturday which saw more than 2,000 people attending the event. This year’s event consisted of a 3km #HowRU walk flagged off by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Mr Eric Chua, and concluded with a music festival in celebration of the power of music and the arts for mental health and suicide prevention.
The festival was headlined by 12 local artistes: Aden Tan, Charlie Lim, Glenn Yong, Hong Junyang, Jack & Rai, Jason Chung, Joanna Dong, lewloh, RRILEY, ShiGGa Shay, Yong Bang and Zadon. Guest-of-Honour Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong also delivered a speech virtually, highlighting the importance of the community working together to better support individuals in distress.