Abuse (Illustrative Photo).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
ERAN – Emotional First Aid dealt with 800 emergencies of threatened suicide during the past year, the voluntary organization said on Tuesday, the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day.
The organization operates a hotline and website that are accessible 24 hours a day and that provide free and anonymous counseling. Over the past year, ERAN was contacted 160,000 times by phone and Internet, and nearly 4,000 of the cases involved talk about suicide.
ERAN director David Koren compared his organization to Magen David Adom, saying that ERAN is an address for first aid to help emotionally distressed people.
But despite its importance, Koren said, the Health Ministry has not yet alloted funds to ERAN as part of the national project for preventing suicide, even though ERAN initiated calls to 83 elderly people, some of them Holocaust survivors, who suffer from depression and are part of a high-risk group as part of the project. The elderly people said the help they received was significant for them.
ERAN was chosen by Facebook’s world headquarters as the organization to help prevent suicide in Israel. When the social media site identifies someone who expresses intention to kill himself, it suggests that he or she turn to ERAN.
Dr. Shiri Daniels, ERAN’s national professional director, explained that if a caller’s life seems to be in danger, anonymity is broken and the organization does all it can to immediately locate the caller and sets emergency procedures in place.
As well as dealing with suicidal thoughts and depression, the organization’s volunteers handle loneliness and other feelings disturbing the callers.
About half of people suffering from serious distress don’t call for help because they are ashamed or fear their identity will become known, shes said.
ERAN has 12 branches around the country, with volunteers who undergo a careful selection process and training to cope with all eventualities. There is a special line in Arabic, Russian, for soldiers and for Holocaust survivors, in addition to the regular Hebrew/English-speaking site, as well as an Internet site for children and teenagers. ERAN is accessible 24 hours a day by calling 1201 or at www.eran.co.il