The ASBL (non-profit) Centre for Suicide Prevention is severely lacking in people available to respond to the calls it receives. To raise awareness, about fifteen professionals and volunteers of the association made an experimental call on Monday, from 9:00 to 12:00, in Uccle, Place Saint-Job.
The organisers called a number at Place Saint-Job. When a passer-by picked up the phone, a member of the ASBL approached him directly to raise awareness of the lack of volunteers at the centre.
He pointed out that on average 6 people are killed each day in Belgium, or about 2,000 a year. The number of suicide attempts is 10 to 20 times greater. Suicide has been the leading cause of death in the last 15-20 years and the 7th most common cause for the Belgian population as a whole.
The centre receives about 13,000 calls a year. Via the number 0800 / 32.123, it centralises the calls of the entire French-speaking part of the country but deals more specifically with the region of Brussels. Two other suicide prevention centres are active in Wallonia and Flanders. “Suicidal people often simply need to be heard or acknowledged in their suffering”, says Cécile Paliès, spokesperson for the centre. “Everyone is likely to have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. But most importantly, everyone can do something to prevent it.”
Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age. They benefit from a 3-month training, provided by psychologists of the team. The centre of Uccle has 12 staff members and some 60 volunteers.