Norwegian helplines get additional funding after suicide of former royal

Norwegian helplines get additional funding after suicide of former royal
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Extra funding is to be provided to helpline services in Norway, which have seen a sharp increase in calls after a high-profile suicide in the Scandinavian country.

Ari Behn, who was previously married to the country's Princess Märtha Louise, died in December aged 47. His funeral took place last week.

Two charities in Norway, Mental Helse and Kirkens SOS, both said recently that they were only able to respond to just over 60 percent of calls, VG reported.

Helplines saw unprecedented demand in the period after Ari Behn's suicide became known, the newspaper writes.  

Minister for Health Bent Høie has since pledged renewed funding to the organizations.

“I will ask the Directorate of Health to reallocate 10 million kroner to support telephone helplines Mental Helse and Kirkens SOS,” Høie told VG on Monday.

The two organizations will receive an additional five million kroner each in state funding, increasing the approximately 20 million they were allocated for 2020.

Between December 25th-30th, Mental Helse’s 24-hour telephone service received 4,267 calls, while its chat messaging service saw a 110 per cent increase in inquiries, VG previously reported.

“Many people call to talk about their own thoughts about suicide, share concerns for their loved ones, and ask how they can cope with this properly,” the organization’s helpline general manager Aslaug Timland Dale told the newspaper.

The organization’s general secretary Linda Berg-Heggelund welcomed the announcement from the health department.

“This is very good news for us and not least for those who need help and need someone to talk to,” Berg-Heggelund told VG.

“We now want to increase staff and expand the chat service. This has an incredible amount to offer,” she added.


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