Suicide Prevention Hotline gets more calls

In the first six months of this year, Belgium's Suicide Prevention Hotline received 5,582 calls (5,001 through the telephone and 581 chat conversations). That figure is 23.6 percent up on the same period last year, statistics show.

The Suicide Prevention Hotline is operational 24/7 and the calls are free. The helpline received an official status in 2002. Since it was officially installed, the number of calls has seen a steady rise.

The latest surge in the number of people seeking help could be explained by the fact that the helpline has become widely known. However, the Centre for Suicide Prevention thinks that it is also due to more media attention for the issue.

In the last couple of months, a number of suicides made the headlines. People often call because they are concerned about someone friends or relatives.

Flanders has high suicide figures. Kirsten Pauwels of the Centre for Suicide Prevention says that this can be linked to the high rate of psychological problems: "If we can have more people seeking mental help, we are really on the right way."