The number of people contacting a Swiss helpline for advice about psychological and personal problems rose by almost 10% in 2018.
The anonymous helplineexternal link – reached by dialling 143 – said on Monday it had received 241,359 telephone calls in 2018, an annual increase of 8.6%. There was also an increase of 11.8% in internet-based communication, by email or live chat.
A total of 640 volunteers work for the 24-hour helpline based in 12 regional centres. The facilities in German-speaking regions increased their capacities and saw a 12% rise in the number of calls, the association said.
Calls by males were down slightly, representing 31.6% of the total. The 30-70 split between men and women has not changed much in recent years.
The organisation said most people calling the helpline were “middle-aged or older”. Less than 1% were under 18 and only 20% over 65.
Psychological problems were the most common reasons for calling (25.8%), followed by day-to-day issues (22%), relationships (17%) and loneliness (10%). Around 80% of all contacts were by repeat callers.
The majority of the 6,884 contacts via internet were by young people: only 10% were over the age of 40. Out of the total, 7% of contacts concerned the issue of suicide.
The helpline – called La Main Tendue in French and Die Dargebotene Hand in German, which translates to “Offered Hand” – is a non-profit and non-religious group that offers psychological assistance and advice 24 hours a day. Some 60% of its finances come from public donations.