Nearly 35% of 30,075 calls show suicidal tendencies: Befrienders

16 Aug 2019 / 14:57 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Nearly 35% of the total 30,075 calls received by the Befrienders Kuala Lumpur in 2018 were from those who have suicidal tendencies, said its executive director Kenny Lim.

He said almost half of those who contacted the centre were those with mental health issues or facing relationship and family problems.

He said the number of calls received by Befrienders KL located in Jalan Templer, Petaling Jaya, has increased steadily every year, with 26,927 calls received in 2017 and 24,821 (2016).

“Of the total 30,075 calls received last year, 66.2% were from female callers and 31.7% were males while 2.1%, their genders were unknown,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama.

Based on the calls received, those aged between 21 and 29 years contributed 19.7% of total calls, followed by those aged between 30 and 49 years (16.8%), between 15 and 20 years (14.3%); between 50 and 69 years (7.4%); between five and 14 years (one%) while those aged 70 years and above (0.5%), he said.

While 40.3% of the callers had no intention to reveal their age, he said.

Befrienders KL is a non-profit organisation that provides 24-hour emotional support to people who are lonely, distressed, in despair or having suicidal thoughts.

It provides emotional support via the phone, emails and appointment with Befrienders volunteers, apart from organising outreach programmes and seminars for free.

“We have 120 volunteers and we provide a safe haven for those suffering from emotional issues, life problems and having suicidal tendencies so that they can share their problems without fear of being judged or punished by our volunteers,” said Lim who has been with Befrienders for 21 years.

He also thanked the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for the partnership with eight telecommunications companies to waive call charges made to the Befrienders’ helpline starting Aug 1.

“This is a positive step because those who need emotional support don’t have to worry about the cost of making the call. Prior to this, some people spoke on the phone and told us that they did not have any credit left on their phones.

“This move will encourage more of those with emotional issues to contact Befrienders,” he said.

The telecommunications companies involved in the collaboration are Celcom Axiata Berhad; Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd; Maxis Berhad, Telekom Malaysia Berhad; TIME dotcom Berhad; U Mobile Sdn Bhd; Webe Digital Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.

He also expressed hope for the Befrienders to increase the number of its volunteers as well as to open more branches nationwide to support its existing nine branches in Penang; Ipoh; Kuala Lumpur; Seremban; Melaka; Muar; Johor Bahru; Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. — Bernama

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