News : Youth Make Up 40% of Suicide Helpline Callers
Ahmedabad, India, Feb 10, 2016 -- In December, a 23-year-old girl from south Gujarat called up Jeevan Aastha, a helpline meant to provide psychological support and prevent suicide - and told the counsellor that she had been inflicting injuries on herself for the last few weeks with a razor blade. When further coaxed, she said she was a victim of sexual abuse and that had left scars so deep that it had made it difficult to enter a healthy relationship or go to college.
"The call did not end in one go as she had so much to say. The counselling over the phone continued for a little over a week, with one call continuing for 4 hours and 13 minutes, the longest in the history of the helpline so far. We are happy that she finally came to terms with her life, stopped hurting herself or feeling guilty," said a helpline official.
The helpline, an initiative of Mumbai-based Vandrevala Foundation and Gujarat Police's Suraksha Setu programme, was started in Surat when Hasmukh Patel, an IPS officer, was posted there as range IGP. When he was transferred to Gandhinagar, Patel started a unit there too. Pravin Valera, inspector (wireless) with Gandhinagar police, said that since its start in September last year, the helpline has had around 1,000 cases.
"In January, we got 981 calls. Primary analysis of the calls show that 40% of them are made by people younger than 26 years. Most of them talk about anxiety, stress, failure and relationship-related issues. Senior citizens also call in, to talk about loneliness and the generation gap," he said.
Gandhinagar police and Gujarat University (GU) organized a seminar at GU Senate Hall on Tuesday morning, to talk about mental wellness and ways to prevent suicide. Over 500 students and faculties from various departments participated in the event.
Dr MN Patel, vice-chancellor of GU, said that the existing evaluation system is partially responsible for causing stress among students as exams don't really show what students know, but what they don't.
Virendrasingh Yadav, SP, Gandhinagar, said that the motive was to reach out to the youth, understand their issues and tell them that one failure is not the end of the world. Hasmukh Patel, range IGP, Gandhinagar, said that the helpline, launched in Surat during his tenure, had helped bring down student suicides from 34 in 2014 to 2 in 2015.
Prashant Bhimani, city-based psychologist, spoke on issues such as parenting, anger management, expression of emotions and mood swings and their role in driving a person to suicide.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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