The Ministry of Health and Wellness is urging Saint Lucians to make use of the national helpline #203 to get the necessary support to overcome challenging mental and emotional issues.
The request comes against the backdrop of a spike in suicides.
The latest suspected suicide was reported in Vieux Fort on Sunday.
Counsellor of the Saint Lucia National Mental Wellness Centre, Shernelle Elibox, explained that calls to the national help line are free.
“You simply press #203 and you press “call” and you could use a landline, a mobile phone and it is free and it is 24/7. So, as long as you call you will be connected to a call responder and from there, the call responder will access what issues the person may be experiencing and connect them to the necessary services,” she told the Communications Unit of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
According to Elibox, psychological services, psychiatric services or a myriad of other services are offered on the island.
“As long as you call, your information is fully confidential and you speak to the call responder and the call responder will not identify themselves. However, you can communicate with them. I know that is something that makes persons a little bit uncomfortable that they don’t know who they speaking to, but these are trained professionals who will keep anything that you have said to them confidential and they will try as best as possible to connect you to the services that you are comfortable with and they will explain what they are doing as well,” she stated.
Elibox appealed to individuals or family members who may have someone experiencing an emotional crisis to use the national helpline to speak to a professional.
“Often times, persons think that the person who is experiencing the thoughts should be the one to call. However, if you have noticed any signs and symptoms of someone experiencing mental health concerns, you can call on their behalf and actually if you call and don’t want to disclose that you are the one who called, you can simply let the call responder know that I just want you to call the person, contact this person “I am concerned about them” and they won’t even disclose that you were one who called,” she observed.
Elibox asserted that eliminating suicide is a communal effort.
“We need each person to notice the signs and symptoms and those range from persons posting about death, persons talking about wanting to kill themselves, experiencing hopelessness, a loss of purpose. All of those things count as warning signs and if someone is communicating those things to you or posting it on social media, please call the helpline,” she urged.
The national helpline #203 is a free and confidential service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.