BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Samaritans, a non-profit suicide prevention service. Their mission is to reduce the incidence of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress and suicidal feelings among individuals in the community, 24 hours a day; to educate the public about suicide prevention; to help those who have lost a loved one to suicide; and to reduce the stigma associated with suicide.
The 24-hour Helpline is the primary crisis service Samaritans provides. Chief Program Officer Ron White says volunteers on the helpline serve as a sounding board for those in crisis.
“It’s greeting that person, sharing your first name, asking if they’d like to share their first name, just some general ‘how’s it going today?’ We operate by using befriending. It’s like active listening. We’re not there to give advice, to tell people what to do, we are there to create a safe environment for people,” said White.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in Massachusetts. White says that's one of the reasons they also encourage texting to the Helpline, “We know that we’re reaching a younger demographic that is not calling us. They prefer to text. And being able to meet them where they are, I just feel really good about that service that we’re providing to young people.”
White says dealing with a text from someone in crisis does require a bit of a different approach than a phone call.
“With a phone, you don’t have any visual cues, but you do have the tone of someone’s voice, you know if they’re crying. But on a text, you don’t have any of that. If you’re getting a lot of one-word answers, or ‘IDK’ (I don’t know), you know you have to dig deeper. And you have to keep trying to get them to respond, to open up, to really share what’s going on with them,” White stated.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Doug Cope Reports