A leading Israeli phone-counseling service has been inundated with calls since the Palestinian violence began just over two years ago. Many of the service’s staff also need counseling after discussing problems related to the violence.
At least two of the people that call the line in any 24-hour period are considering suicide.
“Within one year, ERAN gets 800 callers considering or thinking about suicide, some are on the edge of suicide,” said ERAN Director, David Koren.
ERAN (Ezra Rishona Nafshit – Emotional First Aid) says it receives 10,000 callers in need of psychological help per month.
Koren said there has been a noticeable increase in calls over last two years, and in particular during the last six months regarding economic problems.
“There is a link between economics and the security situation which creates fear,” Koran added.
ERAN serves the entire population in Israel and has dedicated phone lines for counseling in Hebrew, Russian and Amharic (an Ethiopian dialect), as well as Arabic for the Israeli-Arab population.
Profile of ERAN Callers:
• Callers range from children to adults
• 60% of callers are women
• Average caller is in mid-life
• 15% of callers are teenagers and children
• There are not many elderly callers
• 200 Israeli-Arabs are using the service per month
• Israeli-Arab callers are generally young (much younger than callers to the Hebrew line)
• Great deal of loneliness, fear, problems within family (violence etc…)
Problems Particular to Israeli-Arab callers:
• Generally afraid of situation
• Dilemma of being in the midst of the conflict
• Don’t have place to express their fear
• Fear of being accused of being on the other side of the conflict
Koren told The Media Line that ERAN’s own volunteers will sometimes call in anonymously.
Koren explained that because of the collateral damage from working as counselors, the staff and volunteers sometimes require help. ERAN has made it available to them.
“After a 4-hour shift it’s often hard for the volunteers to go home,” Koren said. “Most of our volunteers need guidance or professional counseling, so we put a lot of effort into giving that to them…providing that for them,” he added.
“These are great people. The volunteers give their ears, heart; it’s a tremendous time and emotional investment,” Koren said.
Volunteers and Service:
• 1,000 volunteers / 24 hours per day
• 9 month training to become a volunteer
• Some volunteers come to work at ERAN after using the service themselves
• ERAN provides service recommendations
• 20% of callers are referred by ERAN to other services
• Service is provided over the internet – www.1201.org.il
• Service from phones in Israel call – #1201
• Service is free of charge