In a first, a toll-free helpline for suicide prevention counselling has been introduced in the city to particularly serve the LGBT community.
Created by NGO SPACE, the helpline, 1800111015, has been operational since August 1, and receives five to six calls on an average every day.
“In the last month, six trans people who were a part of our NGO’s community committed suicide. That was really a final push for us to work dedicatedly towards mental health issues and suicide prevention among the queer community. Working with queer issues, we’ve already dealt with issues of so much stigma. In the case of mental health and suicide in the community, the stigma is doubled,” said Anjan Nag, director, SPACE.
The tele-counselling helpline operates from 10 am to 6 pm every day and is manned by Maira Khan, a trained counsellor.
Maira is also a member of the transgender community.
“Most callers are in the 18-26 age category, and the predominant issues are about relationships — gay men in marriages they didn’t want to be in, trans women facing abuse from their boyfriends, and so on. I speak to them for about 15-20 minutes per session and many of them have called for follow-up sessions, which is important,” she said.
According to her, most of the callers have been from Delhi, and a few from Ghaziabad and parts of Punjab.
On September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, the organisation will begin a multi-pronged programme on suicide prevention for LGBT youth. Apart from conducting programmes in public places to raise awareness about the helpline, they are also beginning therapy sessions. “We have a psychologist who is providing in-person counselling at our clinic in Kashmere Gate since August 1. We are seeing 15-20 visitors every week. We are also starting monthly therapy sessions, which will mostly be through art and music…” said Nag.