Suicide is a topic that is mentioned very often on the English line of Die Dargebotene Hand “Heart2Heart”. Ten percent of calls contain suicidal tendencies. This is three times more frequent than on the German line. The 10th of September 2023 was World Suicide Prevention Day. Thus, we are glad that Heart2Heart contributes to the prevention of it and gives people a place to speak about their struggles.
After nine months of answering calls in English this service became increasingly more important and is more frequently used. After a hesitant start, the number of calls increased in July and August to an average of four calls per evening. To this date, nearly 700 calls have been made.
A young woman is desperate and sad. Her boyfriend just left her. She has a thousand thoughts about the reasons. The woman has no one to talk to. Her relatives and close friends live in East Asia and a spontaneous conversation is impossible because of the time difference.
The conversation with the young woman is just one out of over 400 calls by the new English line from the Dargebotene Hand, "Heart2Heart". The line is open since the beginning of this year for English speakers daily from 6 to 11 pm on 0800 143 000.
Relationship and family problems are frequent concerns. Significantly more callers than those in the German line suffer from violence or suicidal thoughts. In half of all calls, a serious psychological problem comes up.
One hundred days ago, the best-known psychosocial hotline in Switzerland, die Dargebotene Hand, launched "Heart2Heart", the new English Crisis Support Hotline 0800 143 000. The 250 calls show that the English-language service is serving a need. Moreover, the number of calls has steadily increased from 1.6 per evening in January to 3.3 in April.
In contrast to the national language lines, callers are from a younger age group at Heart2Heart. Those under 40 are represented twice as much. On the other hand, there are hardly any calls from retired people. Many of the callers suffer from psychological problems. At Heart2Heart, violence and family or relationship problems are mentioned more often than on the German line.
By the end of February, the volunteers of Heart2Heart held 132 conversations in English. This is, on average, 2.24 calls per evening. We are excited that in February, the number of conversations increased by 50% compared to January. Compared to the German line on the English Hotline, more issues about relationships connected to violence and psychological problems came up. Only a minority were native English speakers. As far as we know, callers come from Taiwan, Israel, Greece, the US, or other countries.
We are very grateful to everybody promoting 0800 143 000, the new English Crisis Support Hotline Heart2Heart. For instance, at the beginning of March, World Radio Switzerland broadcasted an exciting podcast (https://www.worldradio.ch/listen-again/health-matters/episode/heart2heart/).
One month ago, the first person called Heart2Heart, the new crisis support in English of Die Dargebotene Hand / La Main Tendu. In these first weeks we had 52 calls on 0800 143 000. A common topic is difficult relationships, related to psychological suffering and loneliness. The topic of violence comes up more often than average. Among the callers, a minority are English native speakers. For those, English is the language in which they can express themselves well or most readily - in contrast to the national languages.
Directly and through various stakeholders, we try to reach English speakers in Switzerland and inform them about this new Crisis Support in English. A sign that this community is aware of Heart2Heart is shown by the fact that since the beginning of the year, a dozen people have already registered to volunteer with Heart2Heart.
It is important to us that Heart2Heart reaches out to more people. We would be grateful for anyone to raise awareness of our new English service.
More and more English-speaking people living in Switzerland are not able to communicate in one of the national languages. In urban areas such as Zurich, the number of English-speaking residents has increased almost sevenfold in the past twenty years, to over 12 percent of the population. This percentage is similarly high in the canton of Zug and in the Lake Geneva region.
The impact of the increasing number of English-speaking people is already being felt by Die Dargebotene Hand. Although the services of Tel 143 are currently only available in the respective national languages, a rising number of callers are requesting a conversation in English. In recent times, the number of English-speaking callers contacting Die Dargebotene Hand in the Zurich region has doubled from year to year. Even though many of these people have a basic knowledge of a national language, they are not always able to talk about their problems in German, French or Italian in crisis situations.
As the best known low-threshold psychosocial hotline, Die Dargebotene Hand also wants to be accessible to the largest non-national language group in Switzerland. English-speaking people calling Tel 143 should not have to rely simply on luck in reaching a person with good enough English language skills to talk with them. Starting on 1 January 2023, Tel 143 will therefore offer a dedicated English-speaking service. This service can be reached daily from 6 pm to 11 pm from all over Switzerland via the toll-free number 0800 143 000.
The name of the new line, "Heart2Heart", refers to the confidential conversations offered by Die Dargebotene Hand. Whether you have worries, difficulties, crises or even joyful news, no topic is too big or too small to be shared with one of the specially trained team members at Heart2Heart. All co-workers at Heart2Heart are either native English-speakers or have a very good command of English.