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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 197-207

Evaluation of Lebanon’s National Helpline for Emotional Support and Suicide Prevention: Reduction of Emotional Distress among Callers

1 Department of Psychology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
2 Johns Hopkins University Alumnus, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon
3 University College London Alumnus, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon
4 Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon
5 American University of Beirut, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon
6 St. Joseph University, Lebanon
7 University of Minnesota, USA

Correspondence Address:
PhD Pia A Zeinoun
American University of Beirut, Hamra, Beirut 1107 2020
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/INTV.INTV_50_20

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Helplines provide time-limited help and orientation to callers who are suicidal or experiencing self-reported emotional distress, but there is no evidence regarding the efficacy of helplines in low-to-middle income countries like Lebanon. The Embrace Lifeline is Lebanon’s national and only helpline for emotional support and suicide prevention, operating since 2018. We accessed anonymous data of 4657 calls received between February 2018 and February 2020. We analysed caller characteristics and predictors of distress and evaluated the immediate outcome of calls by examining the difference in caller distress from beginning to end of call, using a repeated-measures design. The helpline received calls from a majority Lebanese sample that was diverse in terms of age, location, education, employment status and sexual orientation. We found a significant and large (d = 1.94 and 1.99, respectively) decrease in subjective levels of distress among those calling for emotional distress only, and those with additional suicide-related behaviour. The most distressed callers were likely to be female, in a relationship (as opposed to not), and experiencing at least one risk factor, and while everyone showed improved distressed, those with at least one risk factor showed the most decrease. The helpline is effectively reducing distress and suicidal ideation, across a wide sample of callers. Future studies need to investigate long-term sustenance and circumvent limitations related to data collection capture.

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