Goggins Welcomes Free Mobile Calls To Suicide Helpline

Health Minister, Paul Goggins has welcomed O2’s announcement that calls to the pilot suicide prevention helpline will be free of charge from now on.

The move follows concerns that people were being charged for using O2 mobile phones to call the 24-hour pilot helpline in North & West Belfast, which currently receives some 200 calls a week.

Commenting on the announcement, Paul Goggins said: “The pilot helpline was set up as part of the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy, Protect Life – A Shared Vision. It provides an important service in an area that has suffered from high rates of suicide in recent years.

“The helpline is targeted at young people, one of the most vulnerable groups in this area. The friendly voice and listening ear that this service provides are available throughout the day and night. Callers can also access peer mentoring and counselling services if necessary.”

It is hoped that O2’s move will allow even more people to access the service in the knowledge that their call will not only be free but will also not appear on their mobile phone bill, ensuring greater confidentiality and protection for them when they are at a vulnerable point in their life.

The Minister continued: “I would like to thank O2 for working with us and ensuring that calls to this service are provided free. Charging for access to the service could obviously have acted as a barrier to young people and may have prevented them from reaching the support they need.”