3.6 mb - PDF
A 2015 learning project putting users at the centre of our future work.
What was 'Digital Futures'?
Digital Futures was a six-month project that ran in 2015. Its aim was to learn more about the opportunities and challenges for emotional support and suicide reduction created by the internet.
We wanted to make sure we put our users at the centre of how we develop and adapt our service.
We heard from people who had sought support online for themselves or others online, from professionals working in the sector and from Samaritans volunteers.
Digital Futures was the start of a journey for Samaritans, in terms of changing how we meaningfully engage people who use our services in the development of new projects.
Thank you to everyone who took part and contributed to the consultation – your input was invaluable.
Download our Digital Futures report findings and the executive summary below.
Why did Samaritans set it up?
The growth of the internet, and the ever increasing pace at which our lives are becoming digitised, is undeniable.
Many people seeking support now look online. We set up this consultation to learn how more about how to adapt our services.
Alongside the work we currently do and will continue to do, we need to ensure that:
- our services are available to people online.
- people struggling to cope are more likely to receive help.
- harmful content is minimised.
- people can contact us in the way they feel most comfortable with using the technology that they use in their day to day lives.
How people are currently seeking support online
- Over three quarters (77%) of respondents looked for support online when they had been struggling to cope.
- The most common method of support-seeking was to search for information about how they were feeling online.
- Almost all of these (92%) respondents had done this and 72% of those had found it either ‘helpful’ or ‘very helpful’.
- Other ways to seek support included sharing feelings on social media (62%) and talking to others on social media who’d had similar experiences (63%).
- 73% of those who had actively talked with someone on social media who had similar experiences considered this helpful or very helpful.
- Just over half of those who had sought help online had used self-help tools (59%). 54% had joined a forum or community.
- A quarter (26%) had talked with a professional counsellor online.
What people want in the emotional support online
A number of recurring themes emerged:
- More safe online spaces.
- Support from like-minded people.
- To be able to express themselves without the need to censor.
- Instant and consistent support 24/7.
- To be able to find good online support quickly and easily.
- A variety of options for support.
9.2 mb - PDF