Samaritans is happy to announce that we have re-designed our Safe Place Support Group Meetings for people who have lost a loved one to suicide and have launched a video conference version that is now available to survivors of suicide loss.

Samaritans deeply regretted having to suspend our bimonthly Safe Place ‘Suicide Survivor’ Support Group Meetings; we know many people relied on them for ongoing support.  But the New York State “pause” order and our concern for staff members’ and participants’ safety left us little choice.

Many survivors say that Safe Place is the only place they can openly address what they are experiencing without having to be concerned about other people’s attitudes or judgments, which can range from being blamed for their loved one’s death to undue fascination with the details of the death to being completely ignored or ostracized from normal family or community activities.

Samaritans believes the on-line version of our Safe Place meetings will provide the same benefits as our in-person support groups.  But it does present some challenges.  

The most striking is there is no way to know how many people will want to participate.  And there is a greater limit of how many people we feel we can facilitate effectively at one time in this setting; which could result in some people wanting to “attend” who are unable to gain access.

With that in mind, Samaritans has created new guidelines to maintain as much fairness as possible while still ensuring a quality experience.  This is a work-in-progress that will require everyone involved to be patient and respectful of the challenge inherent in this type of service. 

To this end, we have created a very simple meeting registration page (see below) that is similar to the sign-in sheets Safe Place participants fill-out at every Samaritans Support Group Meeting they attend.  After the individual completes and submits the registration page, Samaritans will email a confirmation and then the link to the ZOOM meeting they have asked to attend.

There is one issue that must be acknowledged.  When it is time to sign-in to the meeting, attendees will be “provided access” on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Once the 12 spots are filled, the site will not accept any additional participants.  It is automatic and there is no override. 

In order to maintain the goals and intent of Samaritans support group meetings and to facilitate them effectively, participants must agree to the following (those who do not comply will be removed):

  • every participant must be able to be seen on video and have audio as well
  • there can only be one person per screen (no couples, family members, friends)
  • each participant must be located in a private setting where no one can be overheard.

In addition, to guarantee the “safe” aspect of Samaritans meetings, all participants must agree to adhere to absolute privacy and confidentiality.  And ONLY individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide are allowed to participate; there are no exceptions (no matter the reason).

For over 35 years, Samaritans has offered this free suicide survivor support group meeting program to provide emotional support and solace to members of the community who have lost a loved one to suicide.  We take the sanctity of this program very seriously and require all those who chose to participate to approach it with the same spirit and intent.

We look forward to seeing you.

[To learn more about Samaritans Safe Place and Survivor of Suicide Loss programs, please click the “Get Help” button and go to “Coping with Suicide Loss.]

To register to attend a Samaritans Safe Place Meeting click here