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

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 lowto-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.

 

Key implications for practice

  •  Lebanon's national helpline for emotional support and suicide prevention logged 4657 calls in 2 years, from a majority Lebanese sample diverse in terms of age, location, education, employment status and sexual orientation. 

 

  •  The helpline interventions are effective in significantly reducing subjective levels of distress and suicide-related behaviour among callers. 

 

  •  The most distressed callers are likely to be female, in a relationship (as opposed to not), and reporting at least one life stressor (risk factor).

 

  •  Those with at least one stressor (risk factor) show the largest reduction in distress.
Reference: 
Pia A Zeinoun, Farah E Yehia, Lila Z Khederlarian, Serene F Yordi, Mia M Atoui, Rabih El Chammay, Ziad H Nahas | 2021
In: Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas | 19 | 2 | 197-207
https://www.interventionjournal.org/article.asp?issn=1571-8883%3Byear%3D2021%3Bvolume%3D19%3Bissue%3D2%3Bspage%3D197%3Bepage%3D207%3Baulast%3DZeinoun
Keywords: 
Interventions, Lebanese, Suicidality, Telemedicine