The number of people contacting Swiss helpline “La Main Tendue” for advice about psychological and personal problems continued to increase in 2017. Internet-based requests, and requests by males, notably rose.
The helpline, also known by its dialling code 143, released a statementexternal link (in French) on Monday in which it said it received a total of 222,263 telephone calls in 2017, an increase of 1.6%.
The organisation particularly welcomed the fact that the number of calls by males – traditionally a more reticent group – increased by 10%, accounting for about one-third of the total.
The reasons for contact remained unchanged. Psychological problems were most prevalent, while loneliness was cited on 10% of calls, relationship problems on 20%. Suicidal tendencies were discussed on less than 2% of calls.
Away from the phones, which are still dominated by callers over the age of 40, the organisation also saw an increase of 15% in Internet-based communication, either by email or live chat. This came despite staffing shortages which meant the group was unable to respond to every request.
Online communication was mostly driven by younger people, the statement said. Youth may prefer such channels to discuss taboo subjects such as suicide. The organisation plans to beef up this part of its service as much as possible to absorb the demand.
La Main Tendue (Die Dargebotene Hand, in German, which translates to “Offered Hand” in English) is a non-profit and non-religious affiliated group that offers psychological assistance and advice 24 hours a day. Some 60% of its finances come via public donations.