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Need to provide emotional support to those with suicidal thoughts: Connecting Trust NGO founder

Damania also spoke about the challenges faced by her volunteers while working during the pandemic and dealing with the increased flow of stress calls.

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, which will be observed on September 10, Arnavaz Damania who founded Connecting Trust NGO to help prevent suicides, said that the key to success in the area was taking a loving, kind, empathetic and compassionate approach. Damania also spoke about the challenges faced by her volunteers while working during the pandemic and dealing with the increased flow of stress calls.

Damania founded Connecting Trust in 2005, a volunteer-based organization working in the field of mental health, specifically for suicide prevention. “There are many negative experiences around suicide such as stigma, discrimination that the survivors have to face. Hence, we decided to start this organization to provide emotional support to suicide survivors, people in distress or those who have suicidal thoughts,” Damania said.

During the pandemic, Connecting NGO’s distress helpline volunteers responded to 2427 calls and 717 emails from April 2020 to March 2021.

“Our Survivor Support Program is originally a field program. Our volunteers meet suicide survivors through hospital and community visits and provide them emotional support. Looking at the situation during the pandemic, we took our Survivor Support Program on phone calls from September 2020, to reach out to suicide survivors and we connected with 20 survivors within just a year. We observed that children are also facing stress, so we took our Peer Educator Program online, with three schools and reached out to 920 students, 178 parents and 120 teachers through our orientations and sessions, Damania said. During this academic year, 160 students became ‘peer educators’, ready to support fellow students.

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Connecting trust works in suicide prevention through various programmes including Distress Helpline Program for those who are experiencing distress. The helpline can be accessed by placing a phone call on 9922004305/9922001122 any day of the week from 12 to 8 pm or by writing an email to [email protected] Another is Survivor Support Programme for those who have experienced a suicide attempt can text at contact number 8484033312, and this service is available on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm.

The peer educator programme works with schools for adolescents from 8th to 10th std. “All our services are free of cost and our volunteers provide emotional support to people through non-judgmental, non-advisory, empathetic listening space,” she said.

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