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
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.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
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
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
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 NEW LIFE FOR THE SUICIDE-PRONE
SEVA NIKETAN, 1ST FLOOR, SIR JJ ROAD,
BYCULLA MUMBAI 400008.
EVERY YEAR, 90,000 INDIANS TAKE THEIR OWN LIVES.
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
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
2. To treat all personal information with respect, and never
3. Never to advise, preach, offer solutions or play parent.
Listening with compassion is the
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
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.
SERVICES OFFERED OUT PATIENTS’ CLINIC
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.
DAY CARE 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.
307-3451 SAMARITANS SAHARA
Monday-Friday 4 pm to 10 pm Saturday/Sunday 10 am - 10 pm