Samaritans Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education programs are some of the oldest and most respected in the world. Samaritans education and training work has been utilized in over 40 countries and throughout the US, and the New York center has been the primary source of suicide prevention training in NYC and environs for over 25 years providing workshops, seminars, technical support and major conferences to over 35,000 social workers, caseworkers, guidance counselors, therapists, nurses, psychologists and other caregivers and mental health professionals.
Depending on the audience, its current needs and time factors, Samaritans education programs focus on one or more of the following topics (always emphasizing the necessity of addressing the fears and concerns many people, whether lay caregivers or professional providers, have tied to suicide, their communications and interpersonal skills and knowledge of warning signs, risk and protective factors, assessments and community resources):
- understanding suicide as a public health problem that requires a public health approach
- overcoming the stigma, myths and misconceptions many people have about suicide
- identifying, engaging, responding to, caring for and treating those at risk for suicide
- developing crisis response and suicide prevention protocols and procedures
- designing and implementing site prevention planning, readiness and postvention responses
At the heart of Samaritans education and training programs is our reliance on befriending, an approach Samaritans over 25,000 volunteers practice all over the world that requires the helper to suspend his/her personal values, judgments and preconceptions while utilizing the skills and techniques associated with “active listening,” which puts the focus of the communication on the person being helped, what he/she thinks, feels and is going through at the time.
Our Public Education training program has been found to “improve participant efficacy and ability to identify at-risk individuals” and to “increase the abilities, awareness and confidence levels of people whose job it is on a daily basis to provide care, comfort and support for those who are in crisis and at risk for suicide” by noted researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine’s Departments of Psychiatry and Community and Preventive Medicine (with results of two studies published in Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 2006, and the British Journal of Social Work, 2010).
To access some of the suicide awareness and prevention educational materials used by Samaritans, click here.
Training Addresses Every Day Concerns
Since 1986, the Samaritans of New York has trained and provided technical support to lay and professional health provider staff at hundreds of NYC public schools, community non-profits, health centers, support groups and government agencies serving every culture, population and risk-group imaginable including AIDS coalitions, alcohol and drug services, programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, bullying, veterans, uniformed services, the unemployed, homeless, immigrants, etc.
Samaritans trainings address the very real concerns lay and professional providers have with regard to how best to respond to those who are depressed and/or at-risk for suicide, including overcoming their personal fears about suicide, how to effectively approach an individual who is in distress, identifying and assessing suicide risk and developing effective resources and ongoing responses.
A cross-section of sites that have received the Samaritans training includes: Coalition for the Homeless, Safe Horizon, NYPD, FDNY, Brooklyn AIDS Task Force, Mt. Sinai Rape Crisis, Alzheimer’s Foundation, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, NYC Health & Hospitals, NY Coalition for Asian-American Mental Health, Fordham-Tremont Community Mental Health Center, Administration for Children’s Services, NYC Dept. for the Aging, DC37 Municipal Employees Legal Services, Salvation Army and Girl Scouts of America.
To see a list of community-based and government organizations trained by Samaritans, click here.
To see Samaritans “Caring Community” New York State Office of Mental Health sites served, click here.