Many of us, at some point in our lives, go through a tough time. For some of us, those times may be so hard that we need help from outside our own circle. Samaritans is often the first organisation people turn to when they are struggling to cope. Over 18,000 volunteers in the UK and ROI are on hand 24/7, ready to listen to those with problems. On average phonecalls are received every 6 seconds and about 1 in 5 calls are about suicide. Making that initial contact can take courage and Samaritans recognise this.
‘We’re trying to make the barrier to contact us as low as possible,” says Erik Jan who volunteers at Chilterns Samaritans branch based at Amersham opposite Challoner’s School. “It’s not unusual for people to hang up the first few times they call as it‘s not always easy to talk about how you feel. The calls are confidential, we don’t give advice but we listen. It sometimes helps to talk to someone you don’t know and doesn’t judge you but who does care. Callers have the choice to contact us by phone – and the calls are free on 116123 – or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or – in normal circumstances they can come to the branch for a one-to-one conversation.”
“Suicides are highest amongst men who may find it harder to talk about their feelings. Men feel they have to live up to being the strong, silent breadwinners – they must cope, provide and not complain. They find it harder talk to their friends about what’s going on inside their heads whereas women are more used to discussing their feelings. When men do talk they have much longer conversations.”
“ People are usually good in talking about their situation. However, when it comes to their feelings and how it is to be who they are, it is sometimes much harder. And whilst we may not be able to change the situation, we can help them to make sense of things and find the next steps within themselves to improve ”.
Particularly in the current period when for many of us it is that bit harder to deal with daily life, we need to be there for each other.
CAN YOU HELP?
There are no definite signs that somebody is suffering from depression although watch out for usually social individuals who suddenly isolate themselves or become withdrawn
If you are worried about a friend or family member…
* Try asking open questions like ‘Tell me about, What happened about?… How do you feel about?…
* Repeat back what they say to show you understand and ask more questions
* Focus on their feelings, don’t try and solve the problem,
* Respect what they tell you. Let them make their own decisions
Whilst Samaritans have continued to be there throughout the current lockdown period for phone and email contact, we’ve taken the difficult decision to stop offering face-to-face support temporarily as we cannot accept visitors to the branch for the moment.