SINGAPORE: More people are turning to the Internet for counselling services.
One such website said it has seen the number of users grow by two-and-a-half times over three years from 116 to 287.
Users can log on at a specified time for a one-on-one session with a professional counsellor.
Most of the users are between 13 and 25 years old.
Counsellors said the users feel a greater sense of comfort as they can speak more freely and anonymously online.
While suicide prevention agency Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) does not have online counselling, it has a service that allows users to seek help through email.
SOS said this service is especially popular among young people and the number of people seeking help through email has gone up by 80 per cent over three years.
A survey by the National Youth Council showed that 40 per cent of those between nine and 30 years old are open to online counselling, with the highest rate of acceptance among primary school students.
However, researchers believe more should also be done to protect those seeking help online.
This includes setting up a list of trustworthy online counselling providers.
Maureen Ngo, a researcher at Fei Yue Community Services, said: "Internet is quite a free media where anyone can just go in and set up a website. In that case, it will be actually safer for them to go to those who have the credentials to provide such services.
“And besides that, our ec2 (eCounselling Centre) has been going around schools to publicise about the services. We're actually hoping that more people will get to know about this service and actually have a try since it's run by professional counsellors and it's pretty safe."
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