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newtimes - 12 days ago

EDITORIAL: Dismantling stigma around mental health will boost suicide prevention efforts

Rwanda’s first suicide prevention helpline, registered as 8015, has officially gone live in response to the increasing suicide cases.  The hotline comes to provide free and confidential emotional support to people in emotional distress or those having a suicidal crisis. It will be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline will also present an opportunity to gather the much needed data that can inform future decisions on how best to handle mental health challenges, particularly suicide. The line will also raise awareness about the availability of mental health services at government-run community health centres and the importance of embracing them. It comes to support those in distress or those with suicidal thoughts, it will also be a resource for other people to get information on how they can help friends and loved ones in a crisis. These also comes at a time when at least 576 people in Rwanda have committed suicide in the last two years. Broken down, from July 2019 to June 2020, a total of 291 people took their lives while from July 2020 to June 2021, a total of 285 such cases were recorded. According to RBC, depression prevalence is at 11.9 per cent within the general population and as high as 35.6 per cent are genocide survivors. This means one in three genocide survivors faces trauma. Prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stands at 3.6 per cent. For the call centre and help line to serve purpose and see uptake among the public, it’s important to de-stigmatize mental health. It is not uncommon to come across many with a perception that mental health challenges are for the moneyed and for the elite. Such perceptions continue to limit the number of people who could come out to seek support.


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