If you are feeling isolated, desperate or uncertain about anything in your life, we want to hear about it - call us anytime.
Samaritans’ primary suicide prevention program is the 24 Hour Telephone Befriending Service offered to greater Boston and MetroWest communities. People from all walks of life, turn to Samaritans in search of unconditional and non-judgmental support. Anyone in need can use the support of Samaritans, which is free, confidential, anonymous, and is accessible any time of the day or night. The 350 calls received each day to this service are fielded by carefully trained volunteers. More than 130,000 times a year, Samaritan volunteers offer callers uncritical acceptance and respect in a comforting and understanding manner. In addition to supporting depressed, lonely and suicidal callers, this program also supports those calling with concerns for others.
Those familiar with Samaritans are aware that we are not advice givers or problem solvers. The first reaction from many people, including some who have become our most active volunteers, is to ask why anyone bothers to call in the first place. If we’re not going to solve the problem, what is the use? It’s a fair and challenging question, and we think our answer is just as fair and just as challenging. For many people in our society, it seems as if no one cares enough to stop and listen. We live in a world in which acknowledging loneliness, need and despair is often seen a badge of weakness and shame. For many of our callers, it is extraordinarily difficult to dial our phone number, let alone respond to a volunteer who answers the telephone, “Samaritans, can I help you?” It is all too common for a Samaritan or Samariteen to hear seven or eight or ten sighs, followed by seven or eight clicks as the phone is hung up, before – on the ninth call -- a caller finally says, “Yes. Do you think I could talk to you?”
There is no such thing as a typical Samaritans conversation, but one element is nearly always present: A caller’s sense of personal isolation. At the simplest level, our volunteers comprise a small band of caring voices in what, for tens of thousands of people in the Boston and MetroWest areas, might otherwise be a desolate and indifferent existence without human connections. We frequently hear from people who tell us that the mere availability of someone – anyone – to listen is what kept them alive. As simple as it might seem, “just being there” is at the very core of the Samaritans mission. It is the most valuable service we provide, and everything we do is organized around it.
Samaritans' Helpline Confidentiality Policy
All information relating to a caller is confidential to Samaritans unless:
- We have informed consent from the caller to pass on information
- We call Emergency Services because a caller appears to be at imminent risk of death
- We receive a court order requiring us to divulge information
- We are told information about acts of terrorism or bomb warnings
- A caller attacks or threatens volunteers or others
- A caller deliberately prevents the service from being delivered to other callers
Samaritans maintains confidentiality even after the death of a caller.