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Open Letter, from the Founder of Lifeline Ukraine

19 серпня 2021 р.

Open Letter, from the Founder of Lifeline Ukraine

19 серпня 2021 р.

August 17th 2021

In advance, thank you for taking the time to read this letter. It is important, you may have no idea how important this might be to you personally in your own life.

Lifeline Ukraine is our country’s national suicide prevention hotline, and it is in danger of closing.

Almost every country in the world has a national suicide prevention hotline. Ukraine did not, until two years ago. This is, without doubt, one of the key factors in Ukraine then having the 8th-highest suicide rate in the world.

Without financial support, our work will come to an end. Lifeline Ukraine will close.

We began operations on October 14th 2019. Since then we have received 14,216 calls or messages from people from across Ukraine seeking our support. No two calls are the same. The only standard phrase used on the hotline is “Lifeline Ukraine, I’m listening to you” as a call begins. We have said that 14,216 times.

Not all of the calls we receive are from someone in imminent danger, in line with international norms 11.6% of our calls are people with the intent and capacity to end their lives in that moment. The 1,649 lives that we can say have been saved by Lifeline Ukraine could have been someone close to you. A loved one. A colleague. The lonely lady who is your neighbor.

We cannot see into another person’s mind. We do not know the battles someone is fighting. Suicide can affect you, maybe it already has even.

The lives saved is a part of the work that we do, as I write this there is a call underway right now, family issues are being discussed. In each of the cases where a person has felt that they needed to call 7333 (our freephone number from all major mobile phone operators) we have helped someone come through a difficult moment in their life. And all of the 14,216 calls are related to the prevention of a person taking their life as suicide is always a result of a combination of factors that have a cumulative effect of a person contemplating death by suicide. When we make our earlier interventions, like talking to a caller who is describing their loneliness, we are helping a person to avoid travelling along the road (we call it a continuum) towards an even darker emotional period. Every single call is of vital importance, and every person we have helped has felt this ethos from the people who man the hotline 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

We were able to launch and operate Lifeline Ukraine thanks to financial support from the British Embassy in Ukraine and the US State Department via IREX Ukraine. We have managed to secure another small grant from another important institution that will be announced very shortly. But our longer term – permanent - mission is at risk without securing other funding.

As I type, a second call is beginning this second. My colleague, Slavik, is a pastor who has been here since day one, does not know what is about to unfold. His call is running consecutively with a call being taken by Andrii, a veteran of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Here’s a few facts about suicide, not specific to Ukraine.

  • Globally 800,000 people die by suicide each year.
  • Each instance of suicide affects a wider circle of people.
  • Suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death.

Suicide is a preventable cause of death because suicidal ideation is emotional, whereas we all have a deeper instinct for survival, that is hard-wired in our brains. What my colleagues do when they help callers to Lifeline Ukraine is they listen to that person and help to guide them from the emotional crisis point to a safer place where their survival instinct becomes dominant once again.

If Ukraine’s national suicide prevention hotline closes, lives will be lost. People will die, and these deaths are preventable.

What might you be able to do to help? Here are a few thoughts and requests.

If you have a large platform, do not be indifferent to this message. Please share it. If you have a small platform, your share will help spread this appeal too.

If you run the Corporate Social Responsibility department of a business, and that likely means you are responsible for PR, and if you have a multi-million-dollar advertising spend per year, how about diverting a portion of that to support us instead? Here’s what I’ll give you in return, 9,000,000 views across our social media platforms annually where your logo will sit next to ours.

If you have influence with a wealthy business person, take this to them, ask them to help save the lives of our country folk.

If you know someone in an NGO, an international aid agency, or in diplomatic circles where they often have grant budgets, please share this message with them.

If you can make a donation to fund our work, and 93% of our fixed operating costs are salaries for the Lifeline Ukraine team members, there is a donation button on our website and an open campaign on Spilnokoshta.

(The phone here rang again moments ago, both Andrii and Slavik are providing support this very moment.)

If you help us, you are helping many. Together we are strong.

This moment, the phone rang again.  We have now said “lifeline Ukraine, I’m listening to you” 14,221 times. We can never allow this important resource to close.