Samaritans USA, the organization comprising the individual Samaritans centers operating in the United States, is a member of the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network, with 400 centers in 38 countries (from Argentina, Bosnia and Great Britain to India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe). Samaritans centers provide volunteer-staffed hotlines and professional and volunteer-run public education programs, “suicide survivor” support groups and many other crisis response, outreach and advocacy activities and programs to the communities we serve as well as those throughout the country.
With the goal of providing needed services to those at risk for suicide, educating lay and professional caregivers and health providers and providing solace to those who have lost a loved one to suicide, the non-profit, non-religious Samaritans work closely with local communities, city, state and national government agencies, coalitions and other groups, organizations and associations advocating, promoting and providing suicide prevention, crisis response and emotional support awareness programs and services.
Samaritans USA is a member of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and works internationally with Befrienders Worldwide and other bodies, including the World Health Organization. We are one of the 10 organizations that comprise the National Council for Suicide Prevention (NCSP), the group that works to advance suicide prevention as a public health issue throughout the United States and is a key participant in advancing and implementing the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Samaritans has been featured in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, on MTV, Prime Time Live, Good Morning America, PBS, Nightline, Fox News, CNN and in numerous professional and clinical journals, including most recently, The British Journal of Social Work and Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention.
Populations Served by Samaritans Programs
Whether locally, in the communities and regions we are located or nationally, Samaritans suicide prevention programs serve people of every age, culture, background and identity, especially those who might be considered the most fragile and vulnerable members of our society, such as at-risk youth, homebound elderly, victims of violence and sexual abuse, the homeless and mentally ill. Those who utilize our crisis support services may do so independently, as part of a treatment or recovery plan or as the result of a referral tied to problems such as domestic violence, elder abuse, alcohol and substance abuse, anorexia, post-traumatic stress or for less-specific-but-just-as-devastating difficulties tied to divorce, unemployment, financial setbacks, citizenship or anything that can make a person feel that "life is not worth living."
Why People Often Choose Samaritans
Samaritans is often the service of choice for those people who may be—due to social stigmas, cultural mores, sexual identity, legal status, etc.—unsure of how to seek help or resistant to accessing "official" mental health and government-sponsored services because of their previous experiences with hospitals, medical professionals, etc. and/or their fears about confidentiality. People previously "institutionalized" for mental or emotional problems, those living with AIDS, illegal immigrants, drug addicts, young runaways, parolees and others in the criminal justice system, those in high-profile or sensitive job positions, and members of the GLBT community would be included in this category. Samaritans serves every kind of person with every kind of problem, from the most benign and seemingly simple to those that are most immediate and potentially life-threatening. Our motto is: "Always there!"
Samaritans Volunteers Are The Key
Samaritans volunteers represent a cross-section of caring, responsive and motivated individuals who not only talk about helping others but actually do something about it. Samaritans volunteers are as diverse and varied as the communities they serve, people of every age, culture, social and economic background. Volunteers encompass the entire spectrum of careers and professions: students, teachers and nurses; carpenters, plumbers and fishermen; government administrators, secretaries and janitors; accountants, lawyers and stock brokers; stay-at-home mothers and fathers and retirees. Samaritans volunteers have included a world-renowned cellist, a NASA engineer, an Olympic wrestler and many noted artists, musicians and writers as well as countless social workers, psychologists and other health care professionals.
Our youngest volunteers work on our Teen Lines and our oldest are in their mid-80’s. They come from all over the world, as far away as China and South Africa, with countries that include Australia, Ghana, Israel, Russia, Trinidad and Brazil. Our most senior hotline volunteers haves been with us almost 30 years and there are many individuals who have served for 5, 10 and even 15 years. You can visit the individual branch pages to learn more about how you can become a volunteer in your community.