Letters to the Editor

Fix suicide hotline deficiency

Monday, September 10, 2018

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Dear Editor,

On Sunday, August 26, we read with disappointment an account of a young lady who attempted to obtain psychological support whilst she was experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings.

She was unable to get this support from our local telephone lines designated for this purpose. We find this regretful that she had to go through such lengths to get the necessary support in her time of need but thankful nonetheless that, she received help.

Helplines have an important role in supporting people with mental health and emotional needs, together with their families, friends and the professionals treating them. In theory, helplines should complement the provision of mental health and social services which exist.

They are able to offer cost- effective and accessible service by being contactable outside the operating hours of other services. This can reduce the impact on the already burdened system and provide people with choices, as helplines usually aim to offer confidential or anonymous support, out-of-hours support, crisis resolution, or specialist advice. More importantly, they can be the difference between life and death in a crisis situation.

RISE Life Management Services has been operating a telephone lifeline since 1994. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although our lifeline offers support specifically for addictive disorders such as substance misuse and gambling addiction, our lifeline counsellors are trained and equipped to address myriad issues, including suicide.

Our lifeline number is 1888- 991-4146. Other services offered by RISE include the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders, community-based health and education interventions remedial educational programmes, life skills training, and parenting programmes. These interventions take place in some of Kingston's most volatile inner-city communities.

We call on the Government to remedy this issue post-haste and to strengthen partnerships with non-profit organisations such as ours to be able to offer crisis support to Jamaicans islandwide at any hour of the day.

Sonita Morin Abrahams

Executive director

RISE Life Management Services

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