More people used suicide prevention hotline; no decrease in number of suicides

Call center operator
Call center operator Photo: DmitryPoch/DepositPhotos

Employees of suicide prevention hotline 113 had more than 93 thousand conversations over the telephone or texts with suicidal people last year, almost three times as many as in 2016, according to figures Trouw requested from 113 Zelfmoordpreventie. The increase in calls to the suicide crisis helpline is not reflected in the number of suicides - over the past years around 1,800 people per year took their own lives in the Netherlands.

The increase in contact has a lot to do with more people being aware of the suicide prevention helpline, 113 psychologist Judith de Heus said to the newspaper. But the increase may also be related to a lack of proper care for people with suicidal thoughts - half of young people who take their own lives were not receiving any form of help, she said. Aid workers and schools must be better about recognizing the signs, she believes.

Earlier this month, 113 published a study among relatives of the high number of young people who took their own lives in 2017. Their relatives were very critical of the care these young people received. Many of them had one or more psychiatric conditions, and they often ended up in a "vicious circle of registration, waiting lists, diagnostics, rejections and referrals" while seeking help. 

113 calls for suicide prevention to become a mandatory part of all training courses for doctors and other care providers. According to De Heus, the work of the 113 helpline is like "mopping with the tap open". "It helps a bit. But you also have to close the tap."

Those in the Netherlands who are suffering from depression or contemplating suicide may call counselors at Sensoor, 0900-0767 (5 ct./min.), or call their volunteers at a local number. 113 Zelfmoordpreventie is also available 24/7 at number 0900-0133. A list of suicide crisis hotlines outside the Netherlands is available on Wikipedia.