Bahrain: Expat helpline to tackle suicides

EFFORTS to launch a helpline for expatriates in Bahrain who suffer from stress and depression are being revived by a volunteer group.

Cancer Care Group (CCG) first came up with the idea last year, but a spate of suicides has prompted it to step up its bid for official approval.

Awareness

At least five expats, four Indians and one from Bangladesh, took their own lives between November 27 and December 8.

“The recent incidents of suicides have been disturbing and, as we know, it is very difficult to tackle this issue because a person who has decided to kill themselves will not call a hotline,” CCG head and Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) Accident and Emergency chief medical officer Dr P V Cheriyan told the GDN.

“But our efforts will be more on spreading awareness on how to face depression or stress and, of course, in some cases the hotline is of help.

“We had initiated the process earlier by submitting documents to register the hotline with the Health Ministry.

“We will follow up on the process, while we have already initiated awareness campaigns and seminars on the issue.

“The hotline will help expatriates who are fighting loneliness and feel isolated from society, especially when they are far from their family.”

The CCG first announced its decision to set up a hotline in March last year, after at least 36 Indians committed suicide in Bahrain in 2015.

If approved it will be open to all nationalities and operate under the umbrella of the Bahrain Cancer Society, in co-ordination with the Health Ministry’s Psychiatric Department.

“The economic condition in the country is definitely adding to the suicide rates,” said Dr Cheriyan.

“There are many cases of non-payment, which is perhaps one of the main reasons leading people into depression and then to suicide.

“Most often these people end up being lonely and that is when they think of taking their lives.

“We hope to be of help by reaching out to people, especially in labour camps.”

The GDN has reported 16 suicides this year, including 14 Indians and two Bangladeshis.

Concern

“Other than salary issues, debt is another issue which is a reason behind these suicides,” said Indian Community Relief Fund member and social worker Basheer Ambalayi.

“There are many people who are entangled in loans and they would not share it, mainly due to the stigma of shame.

“Another reason is that they are under threat from those who give loans, as almost always they pledge their passports.

“All of the recent deaths involved one of these reasons, except for one which was a personal issue.

“The community must come forward and initiate awareness campaigns, which is the only solution to this situation.”

Source Credit: Gulf Digital News

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