Hi everyone!

My name is Diana, and I have been involved with Samaritans since September 2014. Samaritans is a Boston-based suicide prevention organization that provides a 24-hour crisis line, grief support services, and community outreach initiatives. I started as a volunteer taking calls on the hotline, but I have also spent time working as staff (involving doing many overnight shifts), training new volunteers, and supervising during more challenging calls.

On April 15, I'll be running the Boston Marathon to support Samaritans. If you feel that our work is helpful, you can consider donating to my fundraiser here: link

Ask me about volunteering, grief support services, or how to support someone in your life you may be concerned about. Alternatively, you can ask me about running 20+ miles! The only thing I can't get into is specific details of calls (for confidentiality reasons), but everything else is on the table. I also have a couple of staff members here using the account /u/samaritanshope, so they might jump in for some questions!

Proof: link


Edit 1: Here are some resources put together by our staff, for those of you who are interested!

If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to, Samaritans’ Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text us anytime at (877) 870-4673.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide and are in need of support, please visit Samaritans’ Grief Support Services page for resources.

If you’re worried that someone you know may be suicidal, there are a number of ways to help. We encourage you to listen, ask, and get help, as outlined on the How to Help page.

Many people struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts give clues to how they’re feeling. You can be the first step towards help for someone you care about by learning to recognize the warning signs of suicide.


Edit 2: Thanks for your questions and comments, guys! I have to head out, but you can check out the resources above for more information. Have a wonderful evening!

Comments: 69 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

asherfergusson47 karma

I have two friends who committed suicide. I didn't know they were suicidal but I did know they were a "bit depressed". I still think of them both quite regularly.

What do you think I could have said or done that may have helped them not take their own lives?

DianaFromSamaritans43 karma

First of all, that sounds really terrible--it is so, so painful to lose a friend to suicide, and I'm sorry for your loss.

I think it can be easy to ask yourself those questions, or wish things could have been different. But to me, it sounds like you cared so much for your friends, and it's important to take stock of how you are feeling and how you are processing all of this. We have some resources for people who have lost a loved one to suicide, and I would definitely encourage you to take a look.

ItsFatAlpha37 karma

I have severe depression. I often lay awake all night rotating between fantasizing about suicide, thinking about everything that I have lost or don't have in life and all the people who are worse off for having me in their life.... But, I'd never actually commit suicide because I am a single father.

I've been in therapy most of my life, I'm on meds, but sometimes I just am suffering so badly and am alone.

I'm afraid to call at those moments because I'm afraid I'll be 302ed (Involuntary commitment in my state) or end up with CYS at my home, etc.

What would happen if I called?

DianaFromSamaritans28 karma

Hi--I came back for a second to answer this. I have definitely spoken with people who are worried that if they say they are feeling suicidal, the police will show up at their door.

It sounds like you have been through so much, and we want to be there in those moments when you are suffering and feeling alone, and need someone to talk to.

We do sometimes speak with people about ways they can get through the night, or stay safe for the immediate future--but even those conversations are pretty rare. I think that if you called us, and told us the same thing that you just said, we would be there to listen to what you’re going through. As I mentioned in another comment, we wouldn’t give any advice or judgment, but we would be there to support you.

2204bee18 karma

How does the hotline work?

DianaFromSamaritans38 karma

Great question! It can definitely vary among different hotlines, but here are some things about Samaritans:

  • Anyone can call or text us (including people who are not feeling suicidal).
  • We ask all of our callers/texters whether they are feeling suicidal (it's okay if you are not).
  • We aren't counselors and we don't give advice on our conversations, but you are free to talk about what you're going through--we will always be there to listen.

That's about it!

Brek_Shea17 karma

How many assholes call in with fake/no problems?

DianaFromSamaritans39 karma

Hmm, that's a tough question. There are definitely times when someone calls in with a story that feels extreme. But at the same time, they could very well be telling the truth, and we want to be able to take everyone at their word. Samaritans is based on being nonjudgmental and that means that we aim to listen to everyone's stories. So, we always take callers at face value.

northerner009 karma

Hi! What's the training like to take calls on the hotline? Did you feel prepared to start taking difficult calls right off the bat or did it take a while to get used to it?

DianaFromSamaritans12 karma

I don't know how it compares to other organizations, but I felt like the training was pretty rigorous. I was definitely nervous before I started training that I might not know how to handle some situations, but there is a lot of time spent going over the various situations that might come up, and by the time I started taking calls I felt a lot more comfortable. There is always some kind of supervisor available to help in challenging situations, so that helps us feel more supported too.

Thatcherist_Sybil6 karma

Hello Diana. A wonderful and interesting career, you have my utmost respect. Some questions I always sought to ask: have you contacted or were you contacted later on by any caller you aided, for whatever purpose (gratitude, more talks, follow-up, etc.)? Do you wonder what way some of these folk tread, and do you have any way of finding out?

DianaFromSamaritans10 karma

Hi! At Samaritans we don't give out our personal information, but people definitely reach out to the organization to express gratitude/etc. We do have callers and texters who use the service more regularly, and we are happy to talk to them if they find it helpful.

In terms of wondering about some of the callers, it's definitely happened to me in the past--I remember a lot of the calls I've taken and I often wonder what's happened since we last spoke. However, a big part of this kind of service is that we have no way of knowing how someone's night might turn out, and we sometimes have to come to terms with that ambiguity.

meerkat_10144 karma

Hi Diana, it's great that you're doing such a wonderful thing. What has your experience been like with preparing for the marathon? Also, what got you to working for a suicide hotline in the first place?

DianaFromSamaritans2 karma

Thanks! I had thought that the training would be really difficult (I haven't run more than a half marathon before), but the biggest thing has been keeping to a schedule of one long run per week. I'm always pretty exhausted afterwards, but somehow the distances keep getting longer and longer!

I had always been moved by the experience of listening to my friends' experiences in high school and college, and a friend of mine told me about his experience volunteering in high school. I started here mainly out of curiosity, but it's really been the supportive staff and the callers who keep warming my heart every time I'm here!

LaurenH4113 karma

What are some of your go-to coping strategies when you’ve had a particularly stressful phonecall or shift?

DianaFromSamaritans5 karma

First of all, the people in the phone room with me are a huge emotional support--everyone here has been through difficult calls, and it's really helpful to have others around you when you've been through a tough conversation.

For me personally, I try to be very deliberate about leaving the phone room. If I have a stressful call, I'll leave the room and take a few minutes to be physically outside of the space; it just helps me mentally to separate myself from the experience. Similarly, after a difficult shift I'll focus on what it feels like to leave the building. A friend told me it's like visualizing yourself leaving the emotions behind when you leave, that image is really helpful for me. It can be hard if you take the emotions with you when you leave.

missed_sla3 karma

I want to preface my question by saying that I appreciate what you do, it's something I could not do. I've lost a few people in my life to suicide, and I think that reaching out could have helped them. What is your opinion on allowing, or doctors assisting, terminal patients who want to end their lives? I only ask because I think you would have a unique perspective on this.

DianaFromSamaritans4 karma

I don't know whether my perspective is especially helpful with this question--if working on the helpline has taught me one thing, it's that there are so many people out there with different perspectives, and I don't think I am qualified to make a judgment call on something with such heavy consequences.

To just answer briefly, I guess I would just say that I can see both sides. I can definitely imagine people who are terminally ill and who want to end their lives rather than continue in a hospital bed. I can also imagine the possible consequences or downsides of a world where physician assisted suicide is more widely accepted. So, I don't really know, and I guess I feel just as conflicted as others probably do.

coelakate3 karma

I work a lot with folks who have struggled with mental illness. One of the biggest problems I see is the stigma around it. Do you think this is something that will ever improve?

DianaFromSamaritans9 karma

That is a really good question. It's definitely hard when people shy away from talking about mental illness--it can be frustrating when you know that treatments are available and accessible, and stigma is the only thing keeping people away from recovery. My (maybe optimistic) thought is that the more we talk about mental health in a way that is supportive, the more people will understand that it's okay to struggle and to seek help.

joy314152 karma

Hey there, fellow teammate here, what has been the hardest part of your experience preparing for the Boston Marathon? What has been the most rewarding?

DianaFromSamaritans3 karma

Oh my gosh, hello! Thanks for being here!

The hardest part - honestly, running for hours and hours can get boring! But a week ago I had 21-mile run with a fellow teammate, and we spent most of the run talking about our involvement with Samaritans, our lives, etc. I think that experience of meeting the other people involved with the organization has really rewarding. Also, there are people in my life who have reached out to me when they found out I was doing this, and it's been really great to connect with those people who I didn't previously talk to about suicide prevention.

goldie22j2 karma

Hi Diana, what a great initiative! I'm wondering, what kind of training is involved to become a volunteer at Samaritans? Is there an application process or can anyone sign up?

DianaFromSamaritans3 karma

Hi! Thanks so much for your question. I think this was addressed above, but I'm pasting the link here so you can see it--check out https://samaritanshope.org/volunteering/ for more info on training!

(Edit: typo)

VESTINGboot2 karma

How many veterans call on average to you lines?

DianaFromSamaritans4 karma

We don't really keep track of that information, but we definitely do get calls from veterans, and in my experience it's not that uncommon. I would also say that there are veteran-specific lines too, and sometimes people find it helpful to reach out to those if they are looking for something more specific to veterans--but we are definitely happy to be there too.