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Vadodara police helpline: Zindagi offers a new life to callers seeking support for depression, suicide tendencies

The helpline has been counselling people seeking support on issues, including unemployment, marital discord and financial crisis, according to officials.

Till July 21, 144 callers used the helpline, of which 40 were referred for professional counselling with one person continuing to seek help.

The Vadodara City police, which launched the city’s first toll-free depression and suicide helpline, Zindagi, on June 2 this year, has started counselling 557 persons who attempted suicide since January 2020.

Launched in association with Vandrevala Foundation and the psychology department of MS University of Vadodara, the helpline has been counselling people seeking support on issues, including unemployment, marital discord and financial crisis, officials said.

Till July 21, 144 callers used the helpline, of which 40 were referred for professional counselling with one person continuing to seek help. The helpline is managed by the She Team of Vadodara police.

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Assistant Commissioner of Police, Anita Vanani, who heads the counselling team, said, “We receive about 15 calls per day with people also seeking help in getting a job, finding some government office and so on. Our team happily obliges. We have even passed on job vacancy references to some callers because the ultimate aim is to help. Among those specifically seeking counselling are people of all ages and with various reasons.”

Vanani added that they get calls from youngsters with depression-related issues, loss of job and financial crisis, to senior citizens citing loneliness and women seeking help to beat depression from marital discords.

“Initially, the officials attending the call try to resolve the issue. If we feel that the person has been not convinced, we refer them to psychologists who are working with us from MS University. We pass on the number of the psychologists to the persons and give them the designated time at which they can call the psychologist. We follow up with both and take feedback from the psychologist regarding any further intervention that may be needed,” Vanani said.

Apart from the police helpline of 1096, where callers reach out, the department has also identified 557 persons who survived an attempted suicide since the beginning of 2020. According to the data of the Vadodara city police, a total of 370 individuals survived attempted suicides in 2020 and 187 persons this year until June 28.

In 2020, police received 31 station diary entries and 339 calls from hospitals reporting the cases of attempted suicide, where the person did not want to pursue police action. While 205 of these survivors completed their counselling sessions, 165 persons are continuing with counselling.

Until June 28, this year, the Vadodara city police has received as many as 16 station diary entries of attempted suicides, of which four people have completed counselling sessions and 12 are undergoing counselling. The police have also received another 171 attempted suicide calls from hospitals reporting cases, across the city, in 2021. Of these, 108 persons completed the counselling while 63 are undergoing counselling.

Vadodara city Commissioner of Police Shamsher Singh said, “As part of our proactive measures to help those in distress, based on the instructions of the DGP, the She Team reaches out to those cases. The main aim is to provide support and hope to the person in distress. An individual often changes his or her decision if there is someone who can neutrally assess their reasons for depression and provide them with some resolution or hope. The She Team, comprising of compassionate officers, has been encouraging people calling the helpline as well as those we have identified based on the case entries since 2020.”

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