Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Effective suicide hotline coming - Tufton

Published:Saturday | September 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
Christopher Tufton (right), minister of health, in discussion with Ruel Reid (centre), minister of education, and Sheryl Baker at the World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar, yesterday, at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Port Royal Street in Kingston.
World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar held yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Port Royal Street in Kingston.
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An effective and better-managed suicide hotline, 1-888-NEW-LIFE, is on its way for Jamaicans with suicidal thoughts, Minister of Health Christopher Tufton has said.

Tufton made the announcement yesterday at the World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. The issue of suicide hotlines being out of service has been debated widely since the Sunday Gleaner revealed in August that the Government's dedicated suicide hotlines were either defective or directing callers to pornographic hotlines.

"We have taken some decisions to identify one dedicated 24-hour line, and we want it to be a toll-free line that would be manned through a collaborative effort with Choose Life International to ensure that persons have access. We want it to be promoted so that persons know it exists, and they can have access in the immediacy of the concerns of depression and possible consideration of suicide," Tufton said.

Citing a study done last year by the Mental Health and Homelessness Task Force that revealed that four out of every 10 Jamaicans at some point in their lives are likely to experience levels of mental instability, Tufton said that the finding demonstrates the need for greater commitment to and collaboration on this issue.

Founder of Choose Life International Dr Donovan Thomas has, for some time, advocated for a toll-free line, which he believes will assist Jamaicans who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and need immediate counselling.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com