by Anne Collier
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has 1,434 MySpace friends – and counting (1,417 at the beginning of this week). That means 1,434 MySpace users have a link on their profiles to the Lifeline. This past year, just one of those profiles referred nearly 14,000 people to the national hotline. “Our site received more than 128,000 unique visitors from MySpace in the past 12 months,” the Lifeline’s Christopher Gandin Le told me, referring to the Lifeline’s Web site (as opposed to its MySpace page). Even though MySpace donated $3 million in Lifeline ad placements a month this past year, only 13,000 of those 128,000 referrals actually came from the Lifeline’s own MySpace profile. “It’s individuals who are exercising the power they have to help their friends and visitors,” said Le, who is resource and information manager for the federally funded network with 120 call centers around the country. The support they give callers is free, confidential, and available 24/7, and they receive 1,300 calls a day nationwide (if someone doesn’t answer after six rings, the call bounces to the nearest crisis center). But they don’t only help people in suicidal crisis. The crisis centers get questions about depression, relationships, loneliness, substance abuse, and how to help friends and loved ones, I learned from Ginny Gohr, director of the Girls and Boys National Hotline, which is both local to Nebraska and the backup national hotline in the Lifeline network (its tagline: “Any problem. Any Time.”). For more on this and the Lifeline’s growing presence elsewhere on the social Web, please click to this week’s issue of my newsletter.