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Corona spring was a record-breaking crisis phone – self-destruction was increasingly seen: “Sometimes escalated to the fact that we have called the emergency center” – Finland

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Suicide is on the rise in more and more crisis phone and chat conversations.

The need for mental health support and discussion assistance increased unprecedentedly during the spring. In the summer, the situation has leveled off a bit, but experts fear the consequences are just coming.

The early part of the year has been a busy Mind in the Finnish Mental Health Association’s (Mieli) national crisis phone and the Sekasin chat for young people.

– There have been considerably more contacts than at the same time last year, says Mieli ry’s online crisis work manager Satu Sutelainen.

The number of answered calls has increased by 60 per cent year-on-year (January – June) in Crisis Phone and Sekasin Chat. New duty officers have been trained to allow as many people as possible to talk without long queuing.

The busiest in phone and chat was in April, but towards the summer, corona-related contacts have decreased and queues have shortened. According to Sutelainen, July has traditionally been the busiest time of the year, as there are a lot of contacts due to the holiday season.

Timely assistance

The need for discussion grew noisy, but the number of mental health referrals decreased. Head of the Mental Health Unit of the Department of Health and Welfare (THL) Jaana Suvisaaren according to, a large proportion of visits and treatment were transferred remotely, but it was possible to make physical visits with regional differences. In May, the number of referrals started to return to normal.

– There were no more referrals in any hospital district than in January, but their number is improving, says Suvisaari.

In the healthcare sector, care debt accumulated by exceptional circumstances has been discussed. As the number of visits fell, concerns were raised as to whether the problems would get worse if the aid was not applied for in time.

Sutelainen also emphasizes the low threshold for contacts.

– Although there is congestion, we do not want to send a message so do not contact us. On the contrary, if there is a need and feel it, then feel free to contact us.

In the Sekasin chat for young people, more and more discussions took place during the spring, in which self-destruction arose.

Executive Director of Nyyti Association, which promotes students’ mental health Minna Savolainen considers that there was no desire to burden health care with mental difficulties that were not acute or corona-related.

– People may have thought that not this my concern and anxiety can be more bizarre than someone else, that’s why I would need help when someone else doesn’t. That’s not how it goes. We were all in the same boat, but with very different equipment that boat was rowed forward. People’s crisis resilience is very different, says Savolainen.

Suicide is evident in more and more debates

The long-term effects of spring on the mental health and well-being of Finns are not yet known. There were more and more discussions in Mieli ry’s Crisis Phone and Sekasin chat, in which self-destruction came to the fore.

– Last year, such discussions took place on the Crisis Phone in about 9 days and now in the first half of the year in 15 days. In the Sekasin chat, too, the situations have been clearly more acute, and they have sometimes escalated to the fact that we have called the emergency center, says Sutelainen.

However, according to him, not all conversations in which suicide has come to the fore will lead to a suicide attempt. This may indicate that you have dared to request discussion assistance in time. Sometimes one conversation is enough.

– Of course, it is worrying that people are doing so badly. The issue is serious, and it is important that you dare to contact and talk about these issues.

The most common concerns come from everyday life

Concerns raised in the discussions have been related to illness, financial difficulties, overburdening of home or other interactions, and shrinking services. Online services are not for everyone.

– The problem that often arises is that the customer does not have the peace to make long-distance visits at home, because he is never alone at home, says Suvisaari.

The crisis phone has been called especially by people over the age of 50, who have been concerned about managing the whole thing in everyday life.

– Normally, a lot is said about matters related to the relationship and the family, says Sutelainen.



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