Spain’s Ministry of Health launches on Tuesday May 10th 2022 a specialised hotline under the motto “Llama a la vida” (Call to life).
People experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviour as well as their relatives will be able to dial 024, available 24 hours a day for every day of year, a service that’s free of charge and completely confidential.
Fátima Caballero, Red Cross health director and who will manage the suicide prevention line, has said that a team of “qualified and multidisciplinary” professionals will “will provide response, prevention and emotional support” to people who are thinking about taking their own lives, are trying to do so, and assist their families.
According Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias, the team behind the suicide prevention line will speak several languages, without specifying if this includes English.
“(Suicide) is a threat that has been silenced for too long,” Darias said, stressing that calling 024 will be an option for people with disabilities in Spain.
Suicide is the main unnatural cause of death in Spain, with 3,941 cases accounted for in 2020 (no official data for 2021 yet), which represented the highest number on record and a 5.7 percent increase compared to 2019.
That means that on average 11 people take their own lives every day in Spain.
The suicide prevention scheme is part of a €100-million package announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez last October to finance mental health provisions in Spain, as the public health sector has been struggling to cope with rising demand for mental health services during the pandemic.
The funds will go to training professionals, fighting stigmatisation, ensuring early detection, preventing suicide and promoting emotional wellbeing.
EXPLAINED: Spain’s new €100 million mental health plan
Regarding the suicide prevention hotline, Spain is following the example of other European countries that offer anyone who has thoughts of taking their own life the chance of having professional help, someone who listens to them and if necessary activates a response in coordination with the emergency services.
For Health Minister Darias the hotline is “a measure that will help many people” and serve to “end stigmas and taboos” around suicide.
The OECD has warned of the Covid-19 pandemic’s significant and unprecedented impact on mental health, the impact of which is still not yet fully understood.
Statistics show that 5.8 percent of the Spanish population has anxiety, and a similar percentage suffer from depression. On top of that, at least 1 million Spaniards have a “serious mental health disorder” and only half receive treatment.
“10.8 percent of Spaniards have consumed tranquillisers, relaxants or sleeping pills,” Sánchez tweeted last October. “This says a lot about the problem we have in our society with mental health. We cannot normalise it. We must respond to this issue and analyse its causes and origins.”