Aasra is a crisis intervention center for the lonely, distressed and suicidal.
Aasra functions as a unit of Befrienders Worldwide/Samaritans and is a non-religious, non-political and non-sectarian organization, registered as a Public Charity under the Bombay Charity Act, 1960 (Registration No. E 2047). Befrienders Worldwide/Samaritans has been working in the field of crisis intervention/areas of emotional and mental health since 1960. Aasra is the only help line in Navi Mumbai and started functioning from 13 September1998.
Increasing population, Globalisation, competition, lack of privacy problems are some reasons that are increasingly driving people to contemplate a step as extreme as suicide. Of the usual demograph, the 20-something age group seems to be the most volatile of the lot.
Unrealistic goals coupled with the desire to have more never seem to end. Today I want money, then I want more money and thereafter I want even more money. Nothing is good enough, nothing is enough. And that is what frazzles their nerves and makes them fragile.
Break up of the joint family system, increasing number of one parent families, nuclear families,have made parents take the easy way out- giving material gifts in the place of time, communication and emotional stability, as a result the child's coping skills are not fully developed and this makes them vulnerable to all and any stress-causing stimuli.
Youngsters suffer from a severe loss of a confidence. When they do confide their suicidal tendencies to their friends and family, the warning is usually not taken seriously and sometimes even brushed off as emotional blackmail. The affected individual feels unimportant, emotionally bruised and uncared for. And that's when the concerned individual decides to act upon the warning. The suicidal feeling can subside with emotional care, communication and concern. Callers can get emotional support for their suicidal pain, they are assured of confidentiality and anonymity.
AASRA works in the area of mental health, providing emotional support, unbiased caring through a helpline service and walk-in center. AASRA mandates crisis intervention as it's primary focus through it's assorted services designed to alleviate emotional pain and in the process prevent suicides.
"We aim to help prevent and manage mental illness by providing voluntary, professional and essentially confidential care and support to the depressed & the suicidal".
The objective of Aasra is to alleviate human misery by offering active listening. i.e. non-judgmental and non-critical listening to anyone who would like to avail of our services when they feel anxiety, stress and despair. Aasra recognizes that loneliness and distress often leads to the act of self-destruction , the potential suicide can be averted by active listening.
We at Aasra believe that an attempt or act of suicide is a message indicating despair. It is our endeavor to make our services available when such a message is communicated. Callers can phone in or meet our volunteers or even write to be assured that a warm, caring, empathetic response is available.Complete confidentially is our guarantee as part of our service. Whatever is discussed or revealed by callers is between them and our centre.The services provided by us are not a substitute for medical care and do not claim to be therapeutic.
The Samaritans was founded in the UK by the Rev. Chad Varah, the then Rector of St. Stephen's Church, London in 1953. He was motivated to start this service when he read a sermon at the grave of a 13 year old girl who took her life thinking she was "unclean" and bleeding to death. She had no one to talk to; her distress compelled her to decide on this act of self-destruction.
Rev. Varah decided to start a "listening service". Centres outside UK are under the umbrella of Befrienders International/Worldwide. As of date there are over 446 such intervention centres throughout the world in 42 countries with eleven in India. Aasra is a member of Befrienders India / Befrienders Worldwide.
In 2006, Befrienders/Samaritans UK & Worldwide, IASP(International Association for Suicide Prevention), IFOTES(International Federations of Telephone Emergency Services) and Lifeline International are working on a partnership agreement with the WHO (World Health Organization) and the UN to provide active emotional support to the multitudes being affected by despair and depression and are prone to suicide.
Worldwide it has been seen that 15- 35 age-group is at highest risk for suicide followed by the 50 plus age group and this is a statistic that is applicable to India also.
In the past ten years since inception AASRA's services have been accessed by telephone, face to face, email and letter by over 3 lakh callers seeking active emotional support for feelings of despair, depression and suicide. The numbers keep increasing year after year. There has been an exponential increase in the number of callers since Aasra became 24x7.