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Home >> Mumbai Nonprofit Organisations >> SAMARITANS


THE HOTLINE Mon-Fri 4 pm to 10 pm Sat, Sun l0 am to 10 pm
The Samaritans Sahara Hotline is a phone-in service for those driven to thoughts of suicide by loneliness, depression, frustration or despair. Help at the hotline is non-critical, non-judgmental, completely secular and non-political. In addition to phoning, clients may also walk in or write in. Often a humane listening ear is all the support such a person needs, and this is what he or she will get at Samaritans Sahara.

This key service, backed by professional staff, is manned by volunteers from all walks of life, each one carefully selected for her or his ability to empathies and listen non-judgmentally and with complete acceptance to those in crisis. The special skills of the Samaritan Sahara volunteer are the results of the intensive training and preparation that they receive after selection. Of special importance is their sensitivity to others and their ability to hold personal information in confidence.

For volunteers and post-graduate students

Part of the Samaritans’ activities is the intensive training programme aimed at reliably imparting listening and crisis-management skills to those who volunteer for the hotline service. In addition, students from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences are routinely attached to the Samaritans as part of their field training.

The Samaritans Organisation
The Samaritans is part of Befrienders International (which has its headquarters in London, UK) and also a member of Befriendérs India, which has affiliations in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Kalamasseri (Kerala) and Mumbai.

The next century: Samaritans need your support As we stand on the threshold of a new century. The Samaritans in Mumbai are looking forward ambitiously to extending both the reach and scope of their services. Plans include a 24-hour helpline, many more volunteers working from more centres, much wider and more effective advertising, using not just the press but also television, so that the message of succor reaches more and more of those in urgent need of a helping hand.

What you can do
Offer resources: The Samaritans need funds in order to grow and reach out to more people. Our services are completely free, and financed by donations from generous individuals. Your cheque, made out to The Samaritans, will help bring new life to someone in need. Donations are tax exempt under Section 80G.

Become a volunteer: All it takes is your commitment, compassion and time. To join Samaritans Sahara, phone in at -- on any day between 12 noon and 5 pm.



The number has been growing as the nation modernizes and inherits a slew of 20th century stresses and social problems, ranging from unemployment and loneliness to marital discord and work pressures.

The symptoms are the same — frustration, deep and inconsolable depression, a sense that life has no meaning, that no-one cares, or that the problems surrounding one are too many and too large to be solved. For many, suicide seems the only way out.

In most cases, however, suicide might have been easily averted if only there had been a caring individual to listen uncritically and with empathy to the individual’s problems.

But where would a person in despair find such a supportive listening ear?

For over 30 years, the Samaritans have provided precisely this helpline to those in depression and distress all over the world. The service, manned by dedicated individuals - both trained volunteers and full-time professionals — is free of cost, and is unique in the field of humane mental and emotional health care all over the world.

1. To listen actively with ones heart, without judgment or criticism.
2. To treat all personal information with respect, and never betray confidences.
3. Never to advise, preach, offer solutions or play parent. Listening with compassion is the
best support.
4. To offer friendship, remembering that it must be equal but will not be mutual.
5. Never to forget that the caller owes nothing in return for the support extended to him.

How it all began

In the early 1950s in London, a 13-year-old girl, terrified by the onset of menstruation and believing she was bleeding to death, committed suicide. Reading the sermon at her graveside was a young rector called Chad Varah. Realising that the little girl’s death could have been averted if she had only been able to talk to someone sympathetic and caring, Chad was inspired to start a listening service for those in such personal crises. The Samaritans was born in 1953.
The Mumbai branch of the Samaritans began in 1960, barely seven years after it was founded in England, with the objective of providing a telephone support service. However, the project was stalled by the country’s poor telecommunications infrastructure and also inadequate supply of volunteers. Instead, there came into being a clinic based on befriending and counselling, which continues to this day.

When the telephone hotline was revived in 1993, it had a full cadre of trained, dedicated volunteers and premises in Byculla.

Meet the Samaritan volunteer

Generally, those who volunteer in response to the ads that Samaritans put out twice yearly are individuals with a deeply held belief in the value and dignity of life. In addition, they are people willing to make a commitment of their time and involvement to run the helpline.

Who calls the Samaritans?

Over 12,000 individuals in distress have called the Samaritans for help at the weII-publicised hotline number 307-3451, since the phone-in service restarted in May 1993. Depression and suicidal thoughts cut across all barriers of age, sex, and living conditions. Callers represent all sections of society, some from as far away as Dubai. Their languages vary, as do their personal conditions and crises. What they share is their deep need for warmth, an unconditional listening ear, and empathy.
Volunteers swiftly assess the suicide risk of each caller before taking a decision on the kind of intervention that would be appropriate. Those who need professional help are referred to the Samaritans’ professional staff, who conduct individual and family counselling, as well as group therapy.
Callers who need to be away from their stressful and perhaps harmful home environments are directed to the Samaritans’ Day Care Centre.

open weekdays
10 am to 5 pm.

This provides psychiatric care and treatment, medicines and psychotherapy, as well as group and family counselling. As part of psychiatric care, the emotionally disturbed and mentally disordered are encouraged to attend a Day-care and Rehabilitation Unit.


Here, through yoga, dance therapy, crafts, music, games and so on, they are helped to acquire constructive work habits to replace day-dreaming and depressive fantasizing. The Rehabilitation Unit plays a vital role in creating social and interpersonal skills in clients, as well as enabling their reintegration into mainstream society.
Those attending the programme receive free clothes and toiletries, as well as tea, snacks, meals, milk (when available), and even local train season tickets. It is run by professionals — psychiatrists, psychiatric, social workers, rehabilitation workers and administrators.

Monday-Friday 4 pm to 10 pm Saturday/Sunday 10 am - 10 pm