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26 NOV 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Api-Api assemblywomen Datuk Christina Liew has called on the Sabah State Health Department (JKNS) to consider launching a COVID-19 suicide prevention campaign with a “Save Life Hotline” in place.

The former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister said the proposed life-saving hotline would complement the department’s Mental Health Psychosocial Service (MHPSS).

Liew said she made the call in the wake of the suicidal attempt by a female teenager who was saved by rescuers from the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department on Wednesday.

“The hotline to be manned by professional counsellors would be able to provide counselling or recommend any reasonable aid to troubled people who have lost their jobs and may need food assistance during the extended Conditional Movement Control Order period.

“Those in distress must seek professional help, be it emotional or social support, advice, financial help or the necessary mental health treatment, under the present circumstances triggered by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said in a statement, today.

Liew said the current situation is worrying as Wednesday's suicidal attempt is the third case in the state capital since Nov 18, with the first two incidents, this month were tragically completed suicides.

“This serves as a strong signal to the relevant authorities that something is not right and desperate individuals need help urgently. A COVID-19 suicide prevention campaign would raise awareness that life is worth living and taking one's own life is not a shortcut to free oneself of personal woes.

“More importantly, suicide is preventable if help is readily available to those with suicidal ideation. They need to know there are compassionate people in society who listen and care about their wellbeing and will help them out, so they don't have to resort to ending their lives in a horrific manner," Liew added.

Given that the third case involving a teenager, Liew also urged parents and guardians to monitor their children's movements closely, especially during these challenging times when they are not in school.

“We must join hands to prevent a recurrence of suicidal attempts by young people. Parents play a crucial role in nipping suicidal behaviour in the bud. Do pay greater attention to children's problems or needs to save lives.

“This is possible if parents recognise the warning signs of suicide such as the feeling of hopelessness, talking about death, moodiness and depression,” she said.

The public is encouraged to avail themselves of free counselling services offered by two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) namely Befrienders' Free Confidential Emotional Helpline 016-803 6945 which available daily from 7 pm to 10 pm, while Kawan Bah's Helpline 012-775 3020 is available round the clock daily, she added. - Bernama

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