Dialing 1995 (which reads like "yao chiu chiu wo" in Mandarin, meaning "save me") nowadays is enough to get a caller contemplating suicide connected to the nearest Lifeline branch.
The Taiwan Lifeline Association started its telephone counseling service in 1969. The Mackay Hospital saw a need to provide emergency help, thus, establishing in the spring of the same year the so-called "Suicide Prevention Center." The "Lifeline" officially opened on July 1.
The Rev. Alan Walker, former superintendent of the Wesley Mission, founded the first Lifeline Association in Sydney, Australia, thereby giving round-the-clock telephone counseling to deter suicides as far back as 1963. The service reached out to lonely, desperate, troubled and suffering individuals to offer effective help.
After two years of operation and training, the Sydney Lifeline was born, emerging quickly as a model to centers around the world. Australia, the United States and other countries shortly saw the need to establish similar "Lifeline Centers." Over 200 such hotline centers operate around the world today to help millions who ring up to seek help during their most critical moments.
The big difference about the Taiwan Lifeline Association lies in the fact that it is not supported exclusively by those who believe in the ministry of word and deed in Christ's name. In fact, different church groups and many charitable organizations share the consensus that the meaningful service being rendered by Lifeline is necessary and worthy of their support and involvement.
The Taiwan Lifeline Association has effectively reached out, covering Taipei City, Taipei County, Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Taichung City, Taichung County, Nantou County, Changhwa County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, Chiayi County, Tainan City, Tainan County, Kaohsiung City, Kaohsiung County, Pingtung County, Taitung County, Hualien County, Yilan County, Keelung City and Penghu County through a total of 23 branches.
The "Teacher Chang" lifeline in Taiwan is another channel to which would-be suicides can turn for help and counseling.
The Taiwan Lifeline Association today has 6,000 members and about 4,000 volunteers. About 100,000 calls from troubled individuals are made each year to the 24-hour service. Seventy percent of the callers are women. Women tend to contemplate suicide more because they have less resources and more limited power. Under the circumstance of helplessness, they consider suicide as a way of reaching out for help or vengeance. Furthermore, women tend to suffer more from depressive disorder. Suicide ranks No. 3 among the top 10 causes of death for women in the 15 to 39 age bracket.