Health launches 024, the new telephone against suicide

Seven months after the announcement by the President of the Government, the Ministry of Health launches 024, the new telephone against suicidal behavior. It begins to function this May 10 and is national, free and accessible, announced the minister of the branch, Carolina Darias, at the presentation of a tool that represents a "milestone" in institutional measures for suicide prevention.

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“We naturally speak of a heart condition, but not so of a mental illness. It is something that we have to start to normalize, it can happen to any of us and this phone is for it”, explained Darias in what, he assures, is a paradigm shift in the treatment of suicide. “It has been a long-silent threat, far too long for those who have left and their families. [...] We want to end the stigmas and taboos surrounding suicide”. The phone is designed to serve patients with suicidal ideation, but also those around them and survivors, those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

The year 2020 marked a record in deaths by suicide in Spain. 3,941 decided to end their lives, 7% more than a year earlier, according to the latest data from the INE, corresponding to the first year of the pandemic.

The service will be managed by the Red Cross. On the other side there will be specialists who will attend to the demands "depending on the risk that is identified." Cases classified as high risk or in progress of suicide will be alerted to the emergency services so that it does not come to fruition, according to Fátima Cabello, deputy director of the Red Cross Health Knowledge Area.

The president of the Spanish Mental Health Confederation, Nel Rodríguez Zapico, has lamented that the view of a problem “as if it did not exist” has been turned away for so long: “We have done it with suicide and many deaths would have been avoidable, but the things have started to change. With suicide, everything remains to be done.” In this sense, the Minister of Health has ensured that the suicidal behavior hotline allows progress in the Government's "determination" to put mental health at the "center of public policies".

“It can happen to any of us. The person who commits suicide does not want to die but to stop suffering and we needed a specific prevention tool because in most cases it can be stopped”, said, for her part, Dolors López, author of the book 'I name you'.

The 024 phone is part of the Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2024. The minister has advanced that it will be discussed at the Interterritorial Health Council this Wednesday with the aim of approving it after the announcement in October of an investment of 100 million euros. The implementation of the resource will be accompanied by an institutional advertising campaign during the months of May and June with the slogan "call to life".

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