Health minister Carolina Darias at the launch of the 024 hotline. / sur

Spain's 024 suicide advice line has helped save 585 lives since its launch in May

It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year and is free, confidential and manned by experts. Calls can also be taken in English and other languages with the help of a teletranslation service

ALFONSO TORICES Madrid

The 024 telephone number, which is Spain’s 24-hour suicide advice helpline, has helped to prevent 585 suicide attempts since it came into operation in May, with the involvment of the emergency services when necessary.

In these past few months the hotline has received around 34,000 calls from people with suicidal thoughts or behaviour and from relatives, colleagues or neighbours who wanted information, advice or help. In addition to helping and supporting those who rang because they were starting to have psychological and personal problems, 1,500 cases were referred to the emergency services and nearly 600 suicides which were already in progress were identified and prevented.

The hotline, which is known in Spanish as 'línea de atención a la conducta suicida', was set up by the Ministry of Health on 10 May. It received an enormous amount of calls and cases in the early days and now attends to around 300 calls a day.

It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year and is free, confidential and manned by experts. Calls can also be taken in English and other languages with the help of a teletranslation service.

Principal cause of unnatural death

Suicide has been the main cause of unnatural death in Spain for the past 15 years, since in 2007 there were more deaths from suicide than in traffic accidents for the first time. During that year 3,263 people took their own lives, and the average has been around 3,500 every year since 2012.

The figures show that 75% of suicide victims are men. In fact, for Spanish women, this is not the main cause of unnatural death: for them it is accidental falls, followed by drowning and suffocation. Traffic accidents are now the third most common cause of unnatural death in men and the fourth in women.