Shout’s role in UK suicide prevention
This report brings together evidence from the first external economic analyses of Shout from experts in the field, Frontier Economics and the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, alongside additional evidence from the Metropolitan Police. The analyses determine the practical and financial efficacy of the service in relation to suicide prevention, in order to estimate the number of lives saved by Shout and the commensurate cost savings to the UK economy.
Building on these findings, insights from data and clinical experts at Mental Health Innovations point to the conclusion that, if only 1% of the interventions initiated by their Shout text messaging support service resulted in a life saved, then in a little over three years since launch, the service has prevented the suicides of 126 children, young people and adults. Each life saved has a commensurate economic benefit and Shout could therefore be estimated to have saved the UK economy £252 million to date, based on a 'value for life' calculation of £2m, which Frontier Economics determines to be reasonable.
The report explores the impact that Mental Health Innovations could have through Shout in future years, both in terms of the lives saved by the service, and the commensurate cost benefit to the UK economy.
“The volunteer I spoke to tonight was absolutely fantastic. Calmed me down, listened to what I was saying, ensured I had the relevant resources before I left. They quite literally saved my life tonight. Thank you.”
Feedback from young male Shout texter
Shout is the UK's first free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging mental health support service for anyone struggling to cope, created by charity Mental Health Innovations.
Since its launch in May 2018, Shout has taken more than 1,500,000 text conversations with 540,000 children, young people and adults across the UK in distress and in urgent need of support. Suicide - either thinking about it or being at the point of making a plan - is the most common presenting issue for people texting Shout, highlighted in 35% of conversations. Signposting partnerships such as the one we have with Google ensure that we are reaching people with a means of support in the very moment that they are considering or searching for harmful subject matter around suicide online.
Shout Volunteers are trained to assess risk and to de-escalate texters experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges. This is achieved by engaging warmly with them, validating their experience and supporting them to make a safety plan. When de-escalation is not possible and a texter is deemed to be at imminent risk of suicide, Shout works with the emergency services to keep the texter safe. From 525,000 conversations relating to suicide, Shout has actioned interventions for more than 12,000 individuals.
“With an alarming rise in suicide rates among young people in the UK, it has never been more important to invest in innovative services that can support young people, at scale, in the very moment and place they are in distress. This is why Shout is such a vital service. By providing free, immediate, 24/7 digital mental health support, Shout is saving lives. Without a doubt, Shout is the most accessible effective crisis resource in the UK for young people to turn to.”
PROFESSOR PETER FONAGY OBE CEO of Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Director of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL, and Mental Health Innovations trustee