The Samaritans of New York, Inc.
-- Bill Withers
Alan Ross, Executive Director
P.O. Box 1259
Madison Square Station
New York, NY 10159
The Samaritans of New York, a community-based non-profit agency, is part of the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network. A non-religious organization, Samaritans is devoted to helping people in crisis, those who provide care for people in crisis and those who have lost loved ones to suicide through our volunteer-run hotline and support services based on our active listening, non-judgmental approach to helping called “befriending.” Samaritans operates NYC’s confidential 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, its primary suicide prevention public education training program, suicide survivor support groups, community outreach and advocacy projects and work with international, national and local alliances and coalitions.
Confidential 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hotline: Samaritans operates NYC’s confidential 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hotline that provides immediately accessible emotional support to those who are in distress and suicidal. The service is free, provided by caring volunteers professionally trained in active listening and suicide assessments. The hotline is frequently used by mental health professionals who want to provide their clients with a referral to complement other services and to provide a bridge while an individual is seeking care or during periods between appointments.
Public Education and Awareness Program: Samaritans Public Education program has been the primary source of suicide prevention training in NYC for 22 years providing workshops, seminars, technical support and major conferences to over 30,000 social workers, caseworkers, guidance counselors, therapists and other lay and professional caregivers. The program’s focus is on overcoming the myths and misconceptions many people have about suicide, the keys to identifying, engaging, caring for and treating those at risk and developing prevention planning and site readiness.
Safe Place Suicide Survivor Support Groups: Safe Place Group Meetings provide those people who have lost a loved one to suicide with a safe and supportive environment where they can listen to and share their feelings with others who have experienced similar losses. Many participants say it is the only place where they can openly address what they are going through without having to be concerned about other people's attitudes or judgments. Attendees are coping with losses of parents, spouses, children, life partners and others as recently as two weeks, a few months or 5, 10 or more years and attend one meeting, on occassion, on a regular basis and/or at those times like an anniversary or before the holidays where group support is so important.
Advocacy & Community Outreach: Samaritan’s advocacy and community outreach efforts advance suicide prevention on a local, statewide and national level, and provide support to those groups and individuals who are high risk or underserved by existing initiatives, such as young Latinas, younger and older Asian women, GLBTQ adolescents, at-risk youth, the elderly, etc. Samaritans does this by building coalitions with key gatekeepers and stakeholders, helping to shape government policies and priorities, disseminating information and resource materials through free mailings and user-friendly Internet tools and providing free technical support to those groups with little or no funding. Samaritans is a founding member of: National Council for Suicide Prevention, NYS Suicide Prevention Council, NYC Suicide Prevention Consortium.
Work and Role of Volunteers:
Samaritans hotline volunteers are caring and responsible individuals who do one hotline shift a week and one nine-hour overnight a month. They range in age from 21 to 74, come from every walk of life, every culture, social and religious persuasion and the entire spectrum of careers—lawyers, small business owners, investment bankers, students, social workers, teachers, working moms and dads, secretaries, models, artists, contractors, etc. Every Samaritans volunteer goes through 40 hours of intensive training where they learn to challenge their personal beliefs and preconceptions and practice effective active listening.
Key projects Samaritans has been involved in over the past year include:
“The Need for Police Training on Effective Responses to Suicide Completions and Attempts,” a resource scan and needs analysis study conducted by the Samaritans of New York for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center that examined the role of police and law enforcement officials throughout the United States in suicide prevention and postvention support. Research examined: existing education materials, training curricula, resource guides and other media used to train police officers to respond to the scene of a suicide or attempt; how often police respond; what their protocol is; how suicide prevention and postvention support can fit within their existing practices; and gathered the perspective of key stakeholders (including representatives of police associations, unions, training organizations, etc.) into the feasibility of developing a national training model of curricula.
New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Public Education: A project to advance suicide prevention education in the New York City Metropolitan area paralleling the goals and intentions of the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention focusing on those groups, most notably businesses, corporations and for-profit organizations that have not been included in traditional suicide prevention outreach efforts as well as government departments and agencies, spiritual and faith-based institutions, schools and communities. The project continues Samaritans ongoing work in expanding our community’s awareness of suicide, its causes and keys to prevention, furthering linkages and access to resources, increasing the education and skills of frontline caregivers and service providers.
Samaritans Guide to Suicide Prevention Materials and Resources: Online guide that is intended to assist family members and friends, caregivers and health professionals who are providing care or treatment to individuals who are in distress or suicidal with the information they need to maximize their effectiveness and expand their knowledge. The guide contains a cross-section of Internet links to information on suicide statistics, trends, warning signs, risk factors, the keys to effective responses to high-risk individuals (including children, adolescents, adults, elderly, suicide survivors, etc.), current research and major organizations that provide clinical, scholarly as well as practical articles and studies. To access the guide, go to: www.samaritansnyc.org/prevention/resourcematerials.html
Program Contact Information:
If you want to learn more about becoming a hotline volunteer, call (212) 673-3041 or visit www.samaritansnyc.org/volunt.html.
If you want to learn more about our Safe Place Survivor Support Group Program, please visit www.samaritansnyc.org/safeplace.html.