Planned savings on Suicide Hotline budget reversed after backlash, says Minister for Wellbeing
Share article:
Share article:

Planned savings on Suicide Hotline budget reversed after backlash, says Minister for Wellbeing

The expertise centre will have to save about €54,000. Credit: Zelfmoordlijn

The Flemish Minister for Wellbeing, Wouter Beke, will save €50,000 on the budget for suicide prevention, but has reversed the planned savings on the Suicide Hotline (Zelfmoordlijn), he announced on Twitter.

Earlier, Beke announced that he would save €50,000 on his suicide prevention budget, which caused a lot of commotion on social media, reports De Morgen.

The planned saving of 1.3% (which is €5,133) on the Suicide Hotline, in particular, caused a lot of backlash online. In a reaction on Twitter, Beke quickly said that the savings would be made up using an accounting trick. “The space freed up will be used to make up for the savings made on the Suicide Hotline,” it said.

Translation of tweet: “There will be no savings on the Suicide Hotline. More info below.”

Translation of image in tweet: “There will be no savings on the Suicide Hotline. During the previous government, we decided to buy extra vaccines this year in the context of prevention policy. This will create additional budgetary room for next year – for which I would like to thank my colleagues. This will allow us to spare the Suicide Hotline and reverse the 1.3%. Also for the future, because in the next few years new policies will be drawn up for €10 million in prevention.”

However, savings on the umbrella centre of expertise will be maintained. “The focus is now very much on the Suicide Hotline,” said Kirsten Pauwels, the director of the centre, reports De Morgen. “It is true that the savings on the Suicide Hotline are rather limited, even though we will still feel them, but the Flemish Expertise Centre for Suicide Prevention remains affected,” she added.

The expertise centre will have to save about €54,000, said Pauwels, who had the information confirmed at the Agency. “We will have to see how we are going to be doing that,” she said.

Translation of tweet: “Happy for our colleagues at the Suicide Hotline but the savings for VLESP (Flemish Expertise Centre for Suicide Prevention) remain 6%. Implementing the Flemish Action Plan for Suicide Prevention and Zelfmoord1813.be, developing and implementing new evidence-based methods for suicide prevention… Not easy with savings!”

Other organisations such as Sensoa (the expertise centre for sexual health), the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living, the VAD (Flemish Alcohol and other Drugs Expertise Centre) and the Institute for Tropical Medicine will also see part of their resources cut off from 1 January.

One of the biggest victims is the Institute for Healthy Living, which will have to reduce its budget by €320,000 from 2020. “Prevention is already underfunded in Flanders, we score significantly lower than the European average. That they are still cutting in our budget is something I don’t understand,” said Linda De Boeck, the director of the institute, reports De Standaard.

“Saving money on the Suicide Hotline, cancer screening and alcohol and drugs prevention is just dangerous. How did Minister Beke get this into his head?,” said Freya Van den Bossche, a member of the socialist party.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

For any questions about suicide, you can contact the Suicide Hotline anonymously on the free number 1813 or at www.zelfmoord1813.be in Dutch, at 0800 32 123 in French, or on 02 648 40 14 in English.

Latest news

Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...
Namur Marathon relaunches after two years on hold
The next edition of the Namur Marathon will take place on April 24, 2022, its organisers announced on Friday, as they also opened registrations. ...
Lidl goes on strike: Half of supermarkets in Belgium closes on Saturday
One in two Lidl shops remained closed on Saturday morning, Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt said. Staff have been on strike for several days to ...
€220 million: Largest ever lottery prize in Europe won in France
A record-breaking €220 million Euromillions jackpot was won on Friday by a player in France, the French gaming authority (FDJ) has announced. The ...
Antwerp exhibition shows first photos after city bombed in 1944
An open-air exhibition in Antwerp will show off never before seen photos as part of a commemoration of the first V-bomb to hit the city, 77 years ...