In observance of the the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Day last September 10, 2016, the Department of Health (DOH) together with the Natasha Goulborn Foundation officially opens the ‘Hopeline’ Project. HOPELINE is a phone-based counseling service available 24/7 to any individual who suffer from crisis and depression.

The HOPELINE Project is part of the initiative of the national health department to bridge the gap in the mental health services in the country.

“I am pleased to present the country’s national suicide hotline to our fellow Filipinos. Finally, there’s a hotline for us to call when we are having psychological and emotional issues. We are very optimistic that we can fully implement HOPELINE and address mental health issues in a very innovative way ” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell – Ubial said.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life. And this is happening in spite of the fact that suicide is preventable. ‘Connect, communicate, care’ is the theme of the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day. These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention.

The Philippines ranked 150 out of 170 countries in terms of suicide rates according to this report. The estimated number of suicides in 2012 was 2,558 (550 female, 2008 male) or a suicide rate of 2.9 per 100,000 population. This is lower than the annual global age-standardized suicide rate of 11.4 per100,000 population (15.0 for males and 8.0 for females). The Philippines also has the lowest suicide rate among ASEAN-member states.

The health chief added that unfortunately, in low-income and middle-income countries like the Philippines there is a lot of stigma or taboo attached to mental health and therefore needs initiatives and actions for it to be addressed.

Hopeline has campus caravans for schools and universities as part of its awareness campaign in removing the stigma on mental health issues and is now being conducted by the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation.

The Hopeline is a health-service project by the Department of Health in partnership with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation and the National Center for Mental Health. Globe Telecom is also generous sponsor for this project and is the provider of the technology behind the crisis hotline.

“The families and friends of people suffering from depression are equally important, and they need to know and understand the illness to enable them to respond and provide constructive support to their love ones during the difficult times. Let us work hand in hand to deliver the proper help to them.” Secretary Ubial concluded.

For now,HOPELINE Hotlines may be reached 24/7 at these numbers: (02) 804-HOPE (4673); 0917 558 HOPE (4673) and 2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers).