Spain has launched a new 024 suicide prevention hotline, with the slogan ‘Call for Life’, which has started to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, from Tuesday 10 May.
Health Minister Carolina Darias said it was a priority objective of the Spanish government to put an end to the stigmas and taboos that exist around mental health and ‘to break the silences that have weighed like a burden on it for years’.
The health ministry said that ‘the 024 line will be free, accessible, immediate, confidential and staffed by experts, to support both people who may be suicidal and their families and loved ones’.
024 will also be connected to the emergency services of Spain’s regions and cities to help those whose suffering is pushing them to the limit of their strength because, as Darias explained, ‘a person with suicidal behaviour does not want to die, but wants to stop suffering’.
Suicide is the leading cause of external death in Spain and the leading cause of death in young people. According to data from the National Statistics Agency (INE), in 2020 there were 3,491 deaths by suicide in Spain, which was 7.4% more than in 2019. Darias stressed that the 024 telephone number is ‘a commitment of the government of Spain, of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and a demand from society, which has increased in recent years’.
Spain has also set up an advisory committee for the development of the 024 line, as well as for future suicide prevention actions, made up of experts from different areas, who will ‘contribute their experience and knowledge, considering all possible perspectives and voices’, said Darias.
The 024 hotline will involve the participation of experts to intervene in complex high-risk situations. In a first phase, the telephone will be managed by the Red Cross, while the Health Ministry finalises the tender for the service.
To ensure that all citizens can use 024 in conditions of equality and non-discrimination, the ministry said that the line is adapted and will include a video-interpretation service in sign language, as well as a telephone interpretation service that offers a solution to overcome language barriers by allowing communication in real time with people who speak another language.
The launch of the 024 line is in addition to other health ministry initiatives in the field of mental health, including the Speciality of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Mental Health Action Plan, with a budget of €100 million, to be debated at the next Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS).