All calls to Befrienders Helpline is now free of charge, MCMC together with eight telecommunications operators have come to a consensus to waive call charges made by their customers to the NGO effective 1 August.
The decision comes after Minister of Communications and Multimedia YB Gobind Singh Deo’s recently call out that no one should be excluded in the country’s journey towards a digital shift, the announcement made is timely for those in need, distress, despair and having suicidal thoughts to seek assistance via the Befrienders helpline.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2017, which was released last year, one (1) out of five (5) adolescents is depressed, two (2) out of five (5) are anxious; while 11.2% have suicidal ideation and 10.1% had attempted suicide. MCMC Chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak believes that suicidal symptoms can be prevented and eradicated with collective efforts from various stakeholders, including the Government and industry players.
“Suicidal symptoms are a tragedy in every society, regardless of social, moral and economic aspects. Among the key steps that need to be taken is to eliminate the stigma in the community against mental illness and suicidal symptoms are through assistance such as enable access to Befrienders, which is now free for those who need advice, counselling and emotional support. As we advance through digitalisation, a collaborative effort that focuses on ways to leverage social media and latest technology to identify those most at risk, can be explored,” said Al-Ishsal.
Befrienders is a non-profit organisation that provides emotional support all day to the distressed and the suicidal. Anonymous callers can express their problems and dilemmas to the trained volunteers at Befrienders. All conversations are confidential.