Danish government retracts grant for suicide helpline’s night opening

Organisation says it cannot go on with after-hours service without the grant

With its finance bill for 2016, the government aims to cancel four million kroner of support pledged to the suicide helpline Livslinien, forcing it to end its night-time opening, Politiken reports.

Chairman: will cost lives
Morten Thomsen, the chairman of Livslinien’s board, said that he fears the consequences of the service being unable to take the 5,000 calls it annually receives in the late hours.

“During the night anxiety, drugs and alcohol often cumulate and put people at risk of suicide in a particularly fragile situation,” he said.

“If they can’t call us it’s going to cost human lives.”

Livslinien has operated during the night since 2014 and the 2015 budget granted the organisation four million kroner in order to continue the service from 2016 to 2018 if it’s effects were evaluated to be satisfactory.

Reported effectiveness
The accountancy and consultancy firm Deloitte carried out an evaluation from May 2015. Its report concluded that night-time opening was indeed effective.

“Overall the evaluation shows that the extended opening time means that Livslinien to a greater degree is able to help Danes at risk of suicide since more guidance conversations are carried out than before the extended opening hours and since the conversations satisfy a special need among the users for guidance during the night, where other suicide prevention services are closed,” the report stated.

However, the present government has now retracted the extra funds from the organisation.

Minister: look elsewhere
Sophie Løhde, the health minister, highlights that Livslinien will continue to receive its 6 million kroner of funding for next year’s operations and encourages the charity to seek funds elsewhere for its night opening.

“Previously Livslinien has been good at getting support from private funds and it can’t be ruled out that in the future funding can be obtained from funds and others to support Livslinien’s work,” she said.

But Jeppe Kristen Toft, Livslinien’s CEO, dismisses this argument.

“The money we got was to set up the night-time opening. Not to run it,” he said.

“If there were funds we could go after for running the night telephones we would do so. But we have not found any, and without the grant we will therefore be forced to close the telephones.”




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