The pattern of crisis calls to a suicide telephone helpline service in Nigeria

  • RE Ogbolu
  • BO Oyatokun
  • K Ogunsola
  • TA Adegbite
  • T Tade
  • O Olafisoye
  • OF Aina
Keywords: Crisis Intervention, Mental health, Suicide, Telephone Helpline, Crisis Intervention, Mental Health, Suicide, Telephone Helpline


Background: Suicide is the deliberate killing of oneself. Although it is preventable, suicide accounts for over 800,000 global deaths annually. There is the need to scale-up prevention strategies, and one of these strategies is the provision of suicide telephone helplines.

Objectives: To describe the pattern of calls received by a suicide telephone helpline and the types of intervention provided in a Nigerian facility.

Methods: This was a descriptive study of the first 100 completed calls received on a 24-hour suicide telephone helpline service by trained responders.

Results: All the calls emanated from 14 states of the federation, with the majority (83.0%) from the Southern parts of the country. The reasons for the telephone calls varied from crisis situations (47.0%) to telephone number-verification (27.0%), mental health information (20.0%), and others (6.0%). The mean age of the crisis -situation callers was 25.8 years, with a slight female preponderance (53.2%); most were single in marital status (68.1%) and unemployed (70.2%). A majority (72.3%) of the callers had an underlying mental condition, 68.1% had suicidal ideation while 12.8% had previously attempted suicide. All the crisis callers were offered interventions ranging from phone counselling to linkage to the nearest mental health services.

Conclusion: A majority of the crisis callers were offered mental health services, raising the possibility that the availability of telephone helplines may play a role in suicide prevention in Nigeria.


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Original Research