The Suicide Prevention Counselling Centre, which was opened at Sellur in the city exactly a year ago to prevent people from committing suicides, has already started facing financial hardships.

This centre was started after a team of professional counsellors and psychiatric experts joined together to help persons affected by depression, financial crisis and drug addiction through conducting counselling sessions for them and instil positive feelings among them. The aim is to stop persons committing suicides despite any crisis.

The Suicide Prevention Counselling Centre has been functioning on the Corporation Maternity Centre premises in Sellur here. It was inaugurated on September 18 last year by the then District Collector C. Kamaraj.

A few activities were carried out with the help of District Mental Health Programme and a team of psychiatric counsellors from the Madurai Institute of Social Sciences and M. S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation who had volunteered to extend counselling support to individuals/families. However, the centre is now in a crisis and is unable to implement the proposed activities for creating suicide prevention/awareness at different localities in Madurai and also in nearby villages/slums.

“In the last one year, our centre was able to attend nearly 150 calls. Several of them came to our Sellur centre for counselling. Somehow, of late, we are unable to carry out the awareness programmes as planned by us originally to stop people ending up their life,” D. Janet Shankar, Head of Department of Medical and Psychiatric Social Work, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, told The Hindu on Saturday.

The counselling centre, which is named as ‘Pudhu Yugam,' is open for regular counselling in the evenings from 5 p.m.

Since there are no funds and minimum corpus to meet the routine expenses, the counselling process could not be undertaken outside the centre. “Our counsellors need at least travel expenses and a little honorarium. Only then, they will be able to visit schools, colleges, slums and villages. If there is some funding support, more programmes can be done on a wider scale,” she said.

The centre is now run under the coordination of Dr. Janet Shankar and the District Mental Health Programme Medical Officer S. Siva Sangari who are helped by a team of counsellors.

Also, an appeal will be made soon to the Collector and other top district officials to allot a suitable place for relocating the Suicide Prevention Counselling Centre from its present location at Sellur.

“There is a stigma attached with Sellur and the response will be more if the centre is given another place. Right now, it is not much accessible and we want to request the Corporation to give us a small place, at least with one or two rooms, at a prominent location in the city,” Dr.Janet Shankar said.

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