Making a difference:Q&A with volunteer Mangalika, from Sri Lanka

  • Making a difference:Q&A with volunteer Mangalika, from Sri Lanka image

5 July 2024

Q&A with volunteer Mangalika, from Sri Lanka

Mangalika Warusavitharana, a dedicated volunteer at CCCline in Sri Lanka, has been making a significant impact since 2016. As a volunteer phone operator, she has helped hundreds of people in their moments of crisis. Her commitment to the well-being of her community and her unwavering spirit embodies the essence of volunteerism.

In 2022, Mangalika received the International Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award from LifeLine International. This award recognises exceptional volunteers who demonstrate excellence, community spirit, capacity building, and leadership. Mangalika’s passion for making a positive impact, both personally and professionally, has been an asset to CCCline.

As a recipient of the award, Mangalika was sponsored by LifeLine International to attend the 11th IASP Asia Pacific Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference, held in June 2024, brought together passionate professionals committed to suicide prevention. 

We asked Mangalika about the insights she gained from attending the conference and her reflections provide valuable perspectives on suicide prevention and the impact of such gatherings.

Q: How would you describe your overall experience at the conference?

A: My overall experience at the 11th IASP Asia Pacific Conference in Bangkok was incredibly enriching and enlightening. The conference was well-organised, with a comprehensive schedule that allowed for a good balance of informative sessions and networking opportunities. The atmosphere was vibrant and filled with passionate professionals dedicated to the cause of suicide prevention.

Q: What were the highlights or memorable moments for you?

A: One of the highlights for me was the panel discussion where two doctors shared their personal experiences with suicide. They bravely talked about their struggles and finding a path to recovery. Their stories were incredibly moving and provided deep insights into the personal side of mental health challenges. This session was impactful and offered valuable lessons on resilience and the importance of seeking help.

I found the safeTALK Workshop particularly valuable because it aligns closely with our field of work at CCCline. The workshop, conducted by Belinda Connell and Marc Bryant, provided practical training on how to recognise and engage individuals who may be having thoughts of suicide. The interactive nature of the workshop, combined with the expertise and real-life examples shared by the facilitators, made it an incredibly informative and impactful session. The skills and strategies I learned will be directly applicable to our ongoing efforts in suicide prevention.

Q: Were there any specific topics or speakers that stood out to you?

A: One speaker who stood out to me was Dr. Yoshiki Koga. He presented a compelling session on the risks among users of mental health centers with addiction problems in Japan. His national study on affected individuals and families provided deep insights into the intersection of addiction and mental health. Dr. Koga’s thorough analysis and presentation of the data highlighted critical areas for intervention and support, making it an incredibly informative and impactful session.

Q: How do you think the knowledge gained from the conference will impact your work or field?

A: The knowledge I gained from the conference will significantly impact my work in suicide prevention. I learned a lot, especially about innovative approaches to suicide prevention outside the traditional models. These insights will help me enhance our existing strategies and introduce new, effective methods in our work at CCCline. The practical tools and techniques discussed will allow us to better support individuals in crisis and improve our outreach and intervention efforts. Overall, the conference has equipped me with valuable knowledge that will contribute to my professional growth and the effectiveness of our suicide prevention initiatives.

Q: Are there any changes or improvements you plan to implement based on what you learned?

A: Based on what I learned at the conference, I plan to integrate safeTALK techniques into our training at CCCline to better identify and support at-risk individuals. Inspired by Dr. Yoshiki Koga’s study, we will focus more on addressing the needs of individuals with addiction problems. Additionally, I aim to strengthen community partnerships to create a more comprehensive support network. These changes will help us enhance our effectiveness in suicide prevention.

Mangalika’s journey serves as an inspiration to fellow volunteers and anyone considering getting involved in similar causes. Her dedication, empathy, and hard work remind us that small acts of kindness can create a ripple effect, transforming lives and communities.

LifeLine International’s Members around the world rely on volunteers like Mangalika to operate their helplines. We extend our thanks to those volunteers donating their time and encourage anyone interested in supporting people in their darkest moments, to reach out to their local crisis line;