New York City’s 24-hour Suicide Prevention Center

The Samaritans of New York operates the only community-based organization in the NYC-Metropolitan area solely devoted to preventing suicide and helping people in crisis.

The non-religious Samaritans–part of the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network (with over 400 centers in 42 countries, from Argentina, Bosnia, France and Great Britain to Hong Kong, India, and Zimbabwe)–has been the major provider of suicide prevention, education and awareness services in NYC and environs for almost 30 years with programs that include:

  • the only completely confidential 24-hour suicide prevention hotline
  • the primary suicide prevention public education program
  • support groups for those who have lost a loved one to suicide
  • advocacy and community outreach for the at-risk and underserved

The Need for Samaritans Services

With suicide causing more fatalities than car accidents in the US, as many deaths as homicide and AIDS combined, and depression and suicide increasing in these trying times and troubled economy, the care and services provided by Samaritans are needed more than ever.

Samaritans approaches and methods are studied and utilized by countless professionals in every type of clinical and community mental health setting, including public and private schools, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Samaritans education programs have proved to increase the efficacy of providers in identifying and responding to those at-risk for suicide.

Working on a National, Statewide and Community Level

Samaritans is one of the founding members of the National Council for Suicide Prevention that, consulting with SAMHSA, NIMH, the Surgeon General’s office and others, plays a significant in the development of national suicide prevention policy.

Samaritans was a founder of the New York State Suicide Prevention Council, which was responsible for the NY State Office of Mental Health adopting suicide prevention as a public health priority and has, also, been a major force behind ongoing efforts to advance initiatives in NYC as coordinator of the NYC Task Force on Suicide Prevention.

Samaritans has been the “go to” community agency for the New York City Council on issues pertaining to suicide prevention, a driving force behind NYC’s first-ever public hearing on suicide and has been credited with making suicide prevention education a public health priority for the NYC Department of Education, which serves 1.2 million students.

The Samaritans Mission

The Samaritans mission–implemented by professional staff and over 100 caring volunteers–is to prevent suicide by providing immediate and ongoing support to those in crisis; providing solace and support to those who have been touched by suicide; teaching caregivers the most effective ways to prevent suicide; and making the public aware of the keys to preventing it.

Providing services to people of every age, sex, culture, socio-economic standing, religion and sexual identity, Samaritans responds to every kind of personal, emotional or health-related problem imaginable, from a bad day or a broken heart to mood disorders and mental illness to a chronic or life-threatening disease, trauma or loss.

Samaritans is often the first place those who are depressed turn for help, since it is the only hotline in NYC that practices absolute confidentiality, which research has found to be a preference for many people at risk for suicide.

Samaritans Volunteers Befriend People in Crisis

Samaritans greatest asset is our motivated and devoted hotline volunteers who donate close to 35,000 hours of their time annually, the majority of it staffing the 24-hour hotline. They range in age from 21 to 74, come from every background and culture and the entire spectrum of careers–small business owners, investment bankers, social workers, teachers, working moms and dads, graduate students, administrative assistants, models, artists, contractors, etc.

At the heart of Samaritans’ work is the humanistic, non-judgmental approach to helping we call “befriending” which is both a value system and methodology that puts the focus on what the person in distress is thinking and feeling and helping them get through their difficult times. At Samaritans, we say: “If you are afraid of the dark it is better to be sitting holding someone’s hand than sitting alone.”