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How Social Networking is saving lives.

The Talklife App is saving lives

by JAIMIE DRUITT

We all face challenges throughout our lives. During these times some of us have a great support network to rely on, while others aren’t so lucky.

But even with family and friends rallying behind you, it is inevitable that there will still be feelings of loneliness and isolation.

I knew this all too well when I was going through a relationship breakdown. I had people there for me, but they couldn’t help in the early hours as I lay awake trying to process all of the feelings, thoughts and pain.

It got me thinking, there must be thousands of people out there dealing with far greater challenges than me. Where can they go and who can they talk to, at any time?

It was from this thought that the Talklife iPhone App was born. I decided to create a place where people could go to talk about whatever they are facing, and be supported by a caring community who can relate.

The iPhone was the logical place to start. For many people, their smartphone is within reach 24 hours a day and is a fantastic tool to reach out for a real-time response.

It’s simple to use. After logging in, there are two options – “Help Me” or “Help Others”. Selecting “Help Me” opens a box for someone to share whatever is on their mind, and they can do so anonymously if they wish. “Help Others” reveals a timeline of posts from users, and anyone can comment and offer advice or empathy. Quite simply, we provide a place for people to talk.

Users don’t shy away from taboo topics. They talk about mental health issues such as depression, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it is confronting but sadly for many people these battles are a daily reality and talking is an important first step in their healing process.

People also share their “wins”, and these posts are a huge inspiration to the community.

There is an overwhelming need. The app has only been available for about a year but is already approaching 20,000 users and one million sessions (“sessions” is how many times the app is used) from across 120 countries worldwide.

50 percent of our users are aged between 13 and 17, and 79 percent of users are female.

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If you need help, Talklife media has your back

Talklife faces many challenges. Our priority is maintaining a safe environment and we set out clear guidelines for appropriate use of the app. We have volunteers moderating the timeline for the best part of 24 hours a day. We are lucky to have a community that is fiercely protective of its ideals, and self-moderates through the “flagging” of potentially inappropriate posts. The app also has an emergency help system triggered by unsafe words – users who post these keywords get a pop-up message with an emergency number to call instantly.

I’m not sure what to make of feedback from mental health professionals. Most say they like the idea, but some have expressed their reservations because there seems to be a lack of “expert” input. Well, we would love for professionals to get in touch with us, embrace the app and contribute their expertise! Get in touch! Ultimately, Talklife is run by five young guys out of Adelaide in whatever spare time we have outside of our full time jobs. We don’t claim to be mental health experts, we’ve just identified a need and decided to take action.

Another major challenge for the app is financial support. So far I’ve tipped in about $45,000 of my own money to get Talklife going but I’ve now hit a point where I can no longer provide that sort of finance. We have urgent needs that include server issues, app maintenance, important updates as well as a longer term plan to make the app self-sustainable. Without urgent support, the reality is Talklife may soon come to a grinding halt.

It might appear easier to say “it’s all getting too hard” and quit. But the daily success stories spur us on every day. We have a five star rating at the App Store and only last week a user contacted us pledging to donate what savings he has because he was so grateful to the Talklife community for getting him through “a very difficult time”.

And with reviews like this, we have no option but to do whatever we can to keep Talklife alive: “I have suffered with depression in silence since I was a little boy. I am now 29 and I think this app saves my life every time I open it.”

Talklife is social networking that save lives.

Would you ever use the Talklife App to help you?

If you think Talklife media is for you, download it  from the iTunes app store here, Donate via “Pledgie” here or contact Jaimie at [email protected] Talklife can also be found on Twitter.