Emergency hotline gets 300% more calls after soldier lit himself on fire

Israel's Trauma and Resiliency Center is prepared for more emergency calls in the wake of the soldier's attempted suicide and Remembrance Day.

The 'Under the Stretcher' NATAL commercial (photo credit: Courtesy)
The 'Under the Stretcher' NATAL commercial
(photo credit: Courtesy)
After former IDF soldier Itzik Saidian lit himself on fire as a cry of help at the Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Division on Monday, Israel's Trauma and Resiliency Center (NATAL) has reported a 300% increase in calls to their emergency hotline from Tuesday morning.
NATAL is a nonprofit organization which has been providing treatment and support to victims of terror and war in Israel since 1998. Its slogan is “We won’t leave the emotionally wounded behind.” Through treatment, education, and research NATAL helps thousands of Israelis every year. 
In light of Saidian's actions and Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars on Tuesday evening, NATAL will be working around the clock to accommodate the expected increase in requests for help from former soldiers and their families suffering from PTSD. 
"We are preparing for one of the most complex and difficult days in the Israeli calendar," said the head of the organization, Efrat Shafrut.
"NATAL's helpline will be available 24 hours in a row from Remembrance Day until the eve of Independence Day to provide support," Shafrut promised. 
The organization will also hold its own Remembrance Day ceremony for PTSD survivors to share their experiences and talk about the loved ones they lost. 
Some 71% of NATAL's calls for help this year have been from soldiers in Operation Protective Edge 2014. 
Saidian, who was hospitalized with severe burns after his attempted suicide, is one of those many soldiers who suffered from PTSD after Operation Protective Edge. He struggled to receive Defense Ministry support and recognition as a disabled IDF veteran.
"There are too many cases, in which IDF disabled veterans, our brothers we send to combat, are getting into extreme despair situations and they feel that they do not receive support from the system," said Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev.
It is because of this that NATAL offers its support to PTSD survivors. In a country where twenty percent of the population suffers from post-trauma, according to a NATAL study, options for treatment and real-time help are a must.

NATAL's crisis helpline is 1-800-363-363.

Tamara Zieve and Udi Shaham contributed to this report.