KOCHI: Suicide, they say, is the last resort of a coward. A sweeping statement that oversimplifies a complex issue. There’s is more to it than what meets the eye. And awareness about the problem is growing, but more needs to be done. Hope is the most powerful word that can force a person to rethink his decision to commit suicide. And providing hope to these depressed persons who teeter on the verge of taking that ultimate step is Pratheeksha at Paravur.
Pratheeksha-Home of Hope, is a project which was implemented as a unit of anti-suicide organisation- ‘Befrienders India- volunteer action to prevent suicide’. The NGO was founded by late Brig Dr George.
Pratheeksha is now managed by people who believe in humanity. The organisation is not funded by the government or any other institutions.
“We now have 30 volunteers ranging from housewives to professionals. But we need more volunteers since the number of clients approaching the centre has gone up. The lower and upper age limit set for candidates applying as volunteers is 25 and 70 respectively. Those shortlisted are given a three-day training. Volunteers are selected, trained, guided and supported by other experienced trainers,” says Sibin Sivanandan, director of the organization functioning in North Paravur.
Pratheeksha started as a mass programme to spread awareness about suicide prevention among different sections of society such as the residents’ associations, senior citizen forums, PTA’s at schools, various clubs and libraries. “Pratheeksha intends to be a glimmer of hope for a person seeking attention. The volunteers of the institution claim the willingness to listen is a sign that people care for them. The primary purpose of the centre is to give emotional support to people when they are suicidal. Talking openly about the problems and insecurities can probably save a life. The centre considers it a valuable platform where they discuss about suicide risk among young people,” Sibin added.
He said people contact the centre seeking help in case of family problems, mental illnesses, broken relationships, depression, financial issues, marital discord, loneliness, and educational problems of their children. “The center receives a maximum of 8 callers per day,” he said.
The volunteers at Pratheeksha are people who are trained in psychology of human emotions. In certain cases professional help is provided in addition to the support offered by the centre. Those who seek the Pratheeksha’s services can contact its office: 0484-2448830.