[Letters] Immediate help for the suicidal
One of the policies practiced at the Seoul Suicide Prevention Center, as described in a May 26 article [“A phone call away from suicide”], would seem to raise a red flag not only among mental health professionals but also the loved ones of suicidal people. The article stated that counselors at the center frequently check up on those who call their hotline, and monitoring can last up to six months. When they determine the caller is no longer likely to take his life, they refer him to a district mental health center.
This strikes me as a backward approach. Rather than waiting up to six months for the troubled caller to (hopefully) recover from their suicidal thoughts - and with little more than occasional phone calls from a counselor, there are good chances the person may not improve - why wouldn’t the phone counselors seek immediate professional help or make a referral for this needy individual, who is showing signs of mental instability?
Though I am not a counselor or a mental health professional, based on my experience I would argue that immediate professional intervention, or at the very least a referral, would be effective at an earlier stage for an individual showing suicidal tendencies. Often in these cases, time is of the essence.
Joel Levin, Seoul