SeafarerHelp supports seafarer with suicidal thoughts

10th October 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day, and according to a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), seafaring is the second-most at-risk profession worldwide when it comes to suicide. SeafarerHelp is ISWAN's free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When a seafarer is feeling low or having suicidal thoughts, the team is there to provide support and a listening ear, just like they did in the following case.

An Indian seafarer who ‘felt like committing suicide’ contacted SeafarerHelp for help with his personal problems. He had been feeling lonely throughout the four months that he had been on his vessel, and did not want to burden his family by sharing these emotions with them. He did not feel comfortable discussing his concerns with his colleagues either, for fear of being reported and sent home by his company.

The seafarer explained: ‘Everyone has problems. My inner self used to tell me that disclosing it to everyone would not make it right or return happiness.’

Providing emotional support is part of SeafarerHelp’s service and since the team is multilingual this was given to the seafarer in his own language, enabling him to express himself fully. The team reassured him about the confidentiality of the exchange and the non-judgemental nature of the service, which prompted him to open up about the things that had been bothering him.

The seafarer had first experienced homesickness when he had to leave home at an early age to study at an all-boys boarding school, away from his family. Growing up in an exclusively male environment, he felt that his lack of exposure left him unprepared for relationships with the opposite sex. After joining a vessel, the seafarer later had two difficult and unsuccessful relationships after which he found himself developing suicidal thoughts. The seafarer shared his worries on how the combination of his past experiences continued to affect him.

The SeafarerHelp team acknowledged the seafarer’s courage to admit his suicidal thoughts. The team reviewed the self-care strategies already being used by the seafarer and offered help in finding a professional who could provide specialist assistance. With his consent, the SeafarerHelp team located a Mumbai based professional counsellor and organised counselling sessions based on his availability, while he was at sea.

The seafarer ultimately chose not to take the free counselling sessions, but over the next six months, the SeafarerHelp team kept in contact with him to check on his progress. He said that he appreciated how the team continued to follow up on how he was feeling and the fact that he was given continued support. He said that knowing that the SeafarerHelp service was there helped to ease his burden and he was very grateful.

As this story is written, the seafarer is at home on vacation. He has confirmed that he is doing very well and is addressing his issues. He told us that he is now channelling his energies into taking courses and preparing for his career advancement exams.

The SeafarerHelp team happily provides long term support to seafarers who are experiencing personal difficulties.

If you are a seafarer or family member of a seafarer and need someone to talk to, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team confidentially – all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org.

Read 1082 times