Lila KhederlarianEmbrace (NGO), Lebanon
Title: An Evaluation of Lebanon’s National Helpline for Emotional Support and Suicide Prevention
Helplines provide time-limited help and orientation to callers who are suicidal or experiencing self-reported emotional distress, but there is no evidence regarding the efficacy of helplines in low-to-middle income countries like Lebanon. The Embrace Lifeline is Lebanon’s national and only helpline for emotional support and suicide prevention, operating since 2018. To evaluate the short-term effectiveness of calls to the Lifeline, we accessed anonymous data of 4657 calls received between February 2018 and February 2020. We analysed caller characteristics and predictors of distress and evaluated the immediate outcome of calls by examining the difference in caller distress from beginning to end of call, using a repeated-measures design. The helpline received calls from a majority Lebanese sample that was diverse in terms of age, location, education, employment status and sexual orientation. We found a significant and large (d?=?1.94 and d=1.99, respectively) decrease in subjective levels of distress among those calling for emotional distress only, and those with additional suicide-related behaviour. We also found that the most distressed callers were likely to be female, in a relationship (as opposed to not), and experiencing at least one risk factor, and while everyone showed improved distressed, those with at least one risk factor showed the most decrease. Overall, the helpline is effectively reducing distress and suicidal ideation, across a wide sample of callers. Future studies need to investigate long-term sustenance and circumvent limitations related to data collection capture.
Lila Khederlarian serves as a member of the Executive Board at Embrace, a non-governmental organization based in Lebanon that caters to the continuum of mental healthcare by closing the gaps in prevention, service provision, advocacy, and lobbying. She is currently a data and operations analyst at a drug development biotech startup based out London. Prior to that Lila was an active member of the research department at Embrace and led all aspects of monitoring and evaluation of various projects. Lila completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the American University of Beirut in 2018. She then went on to complete master’s degrees in Cognitive Neuroscience and Healthcare Analytics & Informatics at UCL and KCL respectively. Her research interests include public health, computational psychiatry, and psychopharmacology.