Nation's Only Accredited Suicide Hotline for Seniors in Jeopardy

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The Friendship Line, the nation's only accredited, 24-hour suicide hotline and warm-line for seniors, recently lost ⅔ of its annual funding, prompting the Institute on Aging to launch a crowdfunding campaign: http://www.igg.me/at/friendshipline

Suicide is Epidemic Among Seniors

"For many of our clients, the voice on the other end of the Friendship Line is the only human interaction they can count on."

After 40 years in existence, the nation's only accredited, 24-hour suicide hotline and warm-line for seniors is in jeopardy, due to state budget cuts in California. The toll-free Friendship Line recently lost ⅔ of its annual funding, leaving a budget gap of $700,000 per year, and prompting the Institute on Aging to launch a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo: http://www.igg.me/at/friendshipline

"Older adults are two to three times more likely than teens to commit suicide, primarily because of loneliness, isolation, and undiagnosed depression," says Dr. Patrick Arbore, founder of the Friendship Line, a program of the Institute on Aging. "In addition, seniors are six times more likely to be successful than teens in their suicide attempts, because they are less ambivalent about the decision to take their own lives, and because they have access to more lethal methods."

Friendship Line volunteers and staff make and receive nearly 10,000 phone calls each month to connect with isolated, lonely, and potentially suicidal older adults, ensuring that no senior ever has to feel isolated, lonely, or uncared for. The toll-free, anonymous crisis intervention line is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and volunteers are trained to recognize depression and suicidal thinking among older adults.

"We provide a lifeline, whenever they need it. For many of our clients, the voice on the other end of the Friendship Line is the only human interaction they can count on," he says.

In response to the loss of funding, the Institute on Aging launched an IndieGoGo campaign on Thursday, with the help of the World Champion SF Giants, who donated $5000 to the campaign. The Giants also featured the Friendship Line in their Community Clubhouse during Thursday's pre-season game against the A's, announced the IndieGoGo campaign on the big screen during the game, and donated authenticated baseballs and a bat bearing autographs from Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Joe Panik and Madison Bumgarner. So far, 250+ donors have contributed more than $40,000.

"We are humbled by the quick and generous response from the community," said Dr. Arbore. "We believed that, once the community knew how common suicide is among seniors, and how effective the Friendship Line is at preventing it, they'd step up to support seniors. So far, they have exceeded our expectations. But we still have a long way to go," he says.

To learn more about suicide among seniors and how the the Friendship Line prevents it, and to contribute to this lifesaving effort, or share infomation with your network, please visit http://igg.me/at/friendshipline.

About the Institute on Aging
Founded in 1985, Institute on Aging (IOA) is one of Northern California’s largest community-based nonprofit organizations providing comprehensive health, social, and psychological services for seniors and adults with disabilities. IOA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for adults as they age, by enabling them to maintain their health, well-being, independence, and participation in the community. Long considered one of the most innovative and diverse organizations of its kind, Institute on Aging currently serves more than 8,000 (unduplicated) seniors and adults with disabilities each year through programs designed to alleviate isolation, and enable older adults to continue living independently in the community. IOA’s services support individuals in San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.

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Renee Alexander
@IOASFBAY
since: 03/2011
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