Cebu hotlines open for suicide prevention

By: Vanessa Claire Lucero October 17,2015 - 12:45 AM

WITH rising cases of depression and suicide among students, a 24/7 hotline called “Hopeline” was launched in Cebu to provide support for those in  crisis.

Twelve hotline responders  will take calls, reply to text messages, answer e-mails and private messages on social media from emotionally or mentally troubled callers. .

The suicide prevention and emotional crisis support service was established by the  Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) with   the Department of Health  in Central Visayas  (DOH-7) and  the Coalition for Better Education.

“The ball has started rolling,” said NGF president Jean Margaret Goulbourn.

The fashion designer and mental health advocate  said  Hopeline has been  operating in Cebu on a dry run basis for the past six weeks.

“We wanted to give our responders time to adjust to the work and for them to adapt,” Goulbourn said.

A responder may take as many as 20  calls in a shift.  The hotline is open to  calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Callers can remain anonymous. The  crisis hotlines are 804-4673, 0917-558-4673, or 2919 (for Globe and TM subscribers).

Hopelines also receives international calls, mostly from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are experiencing sadness or depression because of separation  from their families.

Responders listen to the callers and apply several strategies to  calm them down.  A second batch of responders for Cebu will be  trained in February next year.

A search continues for  volunteers or part-time responders to fill the ranks.

“Suicide (cases) are on the rise. We have 13-year-olds or 10-year-olds taking their own lives,” said Goulburn.

Among millennials or those born in the 1980s, there seem to be more children who lack emotional resiliency against frustrations, disappointment and challenges.

“In Asia, we are getting news of the young committing suicide,” said Dr. Madelaine Valera, a representative of NGF’s board of directors.

Valera said that in addition to having sparse  statistical data on suicide in the Philippines, troubled individuals  find it difficult to get help or support.

Luchi Flores, director of the Coalition for Better Education, said it was important to  help members of this young generation who are mostly digital natives and spend much time online.

“They are more stressed in their work. We don’t want the youth to grow up stressed. The 21st century individuals are the ones who will contribute to nation-building,¨ she said.

In partnering with NGF, the coalition will spearhead activities for  schools in line with empowering  communities and providing information on good mental health practices.

The formal launching on  October 17 will start with a series of talks by  well-known medical practitioners  at the University of San Carlos – South Campus, from  1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

With the theme “Dignity in Mental Health,” the forum will tackle  these topics: No Health without Mental Health (by Dr. Glenda Basubas, President of the Philippine Mental Health Association);

Bullying, Depression and Suicide (by Dr. Nancy Cinco, Child Psychiatrist); and Gut as the Second Brain (by Dr. John Reyes, Endocrinologist & Internist).

After the forum, a Holy Mass,   a ‘Glow-in-the-Dark’ Walk around the campus and the official launching of Hopeline will follow.

Around 1,800 students from several public and private schools in the city are expected to attend the event.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was forged by officials of DOH-7, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and the NGF last May 29.

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TAGS: Cebu, Department of Health, depression, help hotline, Hopeline, suicide, youth

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