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Calls To Befrienders KL 24-Hour Helpline Have More Than Doubled In Recent Years

The organisation stated that their daily calls have went up from about 55 to 122 a day.

Cover image via Banyan Mental Health & IRMI

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In a report released by New Straits Times (NST), Befrienders KL stated that there has been a staggering increase in calls made to their helpline

Befrienders KL has garnered support and widespread attention for being one of Malaysia's most notable mental health care service providers. A non-profit organisation that supplies emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they particularly cater to individuals who are lonely, distressed, in despair, and have suicidal thoughts (without charge).

Yet from 2015 to last year, the number of contacts made to their 24-hour helpline has more than doubled, from 21,256 to 44,408, according to the data shared by the organisation themselves.

Subsequently, there has also been an extensive increase in number of calls received by the helpline annually, rising from 2,000 to 6,000, with the daily number growing from 55 to 122 calls a day.

For illustration purposes only.

Image via Banyan Mental Health

Executive Director of Befrienders KL, Kenny Lim, stated that the increase in calls go as far back as 10 years ago, rising more so during the MCO period

According to the report by NST, 40,509 calls with about 111 received daily were recorded in 2020, with the numbers increasing to 44,408 calls with 122 daily in 2021.

The top three issues raised were mental health related, making up 31% of the calls. Family issues weighed out at 12%, while relationship issues stood at 11%. The remainder involved social difficulties and job woes, among others.

"Some 33 per cent of the callers have expressed suicidal ideation or have attempted to end their lives before. But the reason for someone to feel suicidal normally comes from a combination of different factors, which can make one feel helpless and hopeless," said Kenny to NST.

For illustration purposes only.

Image via IRMI

Kenny also told NST that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic also heightened the suicidal contrivance

"There were those who were afraid of contracting COVID-19, some who had lost their family members to the virus, and lost their jobs due to the pandemic." 

He voiced that some people with pre-existing mental disorders worried about travel restrictions, wondering if they could go out and get treatment. Some needed support for their anxiety, as they could not meet their friends, while others who were cooped up with family members ended up arguing with one another.

"At the same time, there were also those who were alone and could not visit their families and they experienced loneliness. These situations were the opposite ends of the spectrum," according to Kenny.

For illustration purposes only.

Image via Crosswalk.com

Nonetheless, there is no time limit as to how long each caller could remain on the line with their trained volunteer

Lim stated that Befrienders' role is ultimately to be there for callers during this time of crisis, "This is so they have someone to talk to and convince them out of their intention."

However, Lim also expressed that suicidal tendencies will come back, and for those who are severely struggling with these thoughts, to seek professional help. 

"There are psychiatrists that give out our number as their patients just need someone to talk to. For those who are highly suicidal, we invite them to call us any time they want."

For illustration purposes only.

Image via NPR

Ensuring a more committed action to the cause, Befrienders KL is always seeking to recruit more volunteers to join their pool of 125 contributors

The current contributors to the non-profit dedicate about three hours of their time every week, alongside a once-a-month overnight duty.

According to Kenny, Befrienders KL is always looking out to boost the number of volunteers, to substantiate at least two to three people on duty at a time, "The more volunteers we have, the more callers will be attended to."

Kenny stated that while no paper qualification is required to join Befrienders KL, volunteers have to be patient with callers, as they may be with some callers for an hour. Prospective volunteers will have to attend an eight-day training session, which will revolve around topics such as active listening, self-awareness, grief, depression, and suicide.

"Volunteers have to be non-judgemental as we must have full acceptance of our caller, regardless of who they are and what they do. Whoever calls us, we will listen to them."

If you, or anyone you know would like to volunteer at Befrienders KL, click here for more information

For illustration purposes only.

Image via Pixabay/Pexels

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

If you or anyone you know is lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, please call these Malaysian hotlines:

1. BEFRIENDERS KL
24-hour
Contact: +603-76272929
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

2. TALIAN KASIH
24-hour
Contact: 15999
WhatsApp: +6019-2615999
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook 

3. BUDDY BEAR CHILDLINE
Daily (12pm - 12am)
Contact: 1800-18-2327
Email: [email protected]
Facebook | Instagram

For a more thorough directory of resources, head over to the websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association or MINDAKAMI.

Remember never to say these things to someone in a bout with depression:

Also, this is how you can respond to people who feel suicidal:

Here are some places that offer professional help to get you through the tough times: