Kashmir’s first Suicide Prevention Helpline has started functioning, the experts hopeful that the initiative will help in saving lives of people who need help at very delicate times in their lives and prevent them from resorting to extreme self harm.
`Zindagi’, the helpline – 18002701008 – created by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, (IMHANS) in collaboration with a Non-Government Organization, SRO, Kashmir.
The helpline aims to offer suicide prevention counselling, first aid, psychological support, distress management, mental wellbeing, promoting positive behavior, and psychological crisis management. It operates from 6 pm to 11 pm every day.
On the first day of ‘Zindagi’, eight callers sought help for suicidal thoughts.
“It is such a good beginning, we have started something that may help us in preventing the suicides and self-harm in people here,” says Dr Sadaqat Rehman, experienced Clinical Psychologist working as faculty of Clinical Psychology at Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, GMC Srinagar.
Dr Rehman is one of the key people in the team of 14 people that are working for the helpline. The team comprises clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and volunteers and is supported by SRO Kashmir, a non-Governmental organization.
“We are planning to run this helpline round the clock when we have more trained people, better resources and more awareness,” says Dr Deeba Nazir, a Psychiatrist working with IMHANS.
Dr Nazir has taken up the role of responding to referral calls in the helpline. “Suicide prevention is a long and specialized process. It needs people specially trained to mitigate an emotional crisis that can lead to self-harm. Sometimes, a First Responder, the person who takes the call, finds that the caller needs more help, they then escalate the call to us,” she said.
Zindagi started functioning on Wednesday, 18 May, and the team is hopeful that the message it aims to communicate will reach more people. The helpline is the first to operate in Kashmiri and Urdu languages.
Dr Zoya, Clinical Psychologist at IMHANS said that the language would not be a barrier and people will be urged to continue seeking help. “Sometimes, we have seen, a person just has a moment of self-harm thoughts and once he or she is talked to, listened to, the thoughts can be changed.
With 8 calls on day-1, experts hopeful of saving lives. Zindagi is all about the hope that life offers,” she said. Her colleague, Dr Mehvish said that the helpline was the need of the hour given the scenario they have observed over the past year.
“We need to extend help. People need help. We will be here to listen to people, their problems, their fears and issues and support them out of the emotional and psychological trauma,” she said.
The team was recently trained by Safe Spaces, an organisation that trains people in suicide prevention.