Background: Befriending is one of many strategies with the potential to reduce suicidal ideation and decrease the risk of suicide.
Aims: To measure change in suicidal ideation and behavior among visitors (service users) supported at The Listening Place (TLP), a charity which offers volunteer-run, face-to-face befriending to people who are suicidal.
Method: This study was peer reviewed and preregistered on the Open Science Framework prior to data extraction. Anonymized data were extracted for visitors at the point of referral and after 3 months of receiving support. Paired-sample tests were used to test whether self-reported suicidal ideation and behaviors changed after 3 months of support from TLP. Multivariable regressions were used to test whether change in suicidal feelings was associated with demographic characteristics or baseline self-reported suicidality.
Results: TLP received 13,938 referrals from July 2016 to February 2022. Self-reported suicidal ideation, suicidal behavior, and feelings of distress decreased after 3 months, while feelings of support increased. Only self-reported suicidal behavior prior to referral was associated with a lesser reduction in self-reported suicidality after 3 months. Limitations: In the absence of a control group, it cannot be concluded that TLP causes the reduction in self-reported suicidality.
Conclusions: An empathetic, nonjudgmental, listening service for people who are feeling suicidal was well received by users, who experienced a reduction in suicidality.