Sorry I screwed up the scheduler again. I am such a tit on occasion. Quite a few occasions, OK, I’ll admit it.
This is what is not right, and it really isn’t right. The Samaritans have changed the ground rules. Now, if you’re a Samaritan, and you fear for somebody’s life, you’ll be required to report potential suicides to the police and social services. That’s just wrong.
The whole idea of the Samaritans is a 24 hour a day, 365 days of the year, service where you just talk to somebody. You may be at your wits end. You may just be lonely. You may be despairing. But the deal is they never ever judge, they never ever tell you what to do. They may question you, to shove you in a direction, but their job is just to sit and listen. It’s what they do. They do not shop you up.
The Samaritan ethos is ‘to keep what you say between us.’ That’s reassuringly non-judgemental. I’ve had recourse to these worthy, dedicated volunteers on a few occasions, once when I was in the middle of a suicide attempt. The guaranteed anonymity was good. It was my decision.
This is the rise of a safe, corporate culture that has no place in the Samaritans. The Samaritans are a bit like a priest confessional. What happens in the confession box stays in the confession box, like a watertight what happens in Vegas clause. Volunteers are resigning in droves. That’s not what they signed up for. They signed up to listen, not to shop people up to the ‘authorities.’ People call the Samaritans because the ‘authorities’ have failed them.
There’s an administrative issue too. I can tell you that if you call the Samaritans, you don’t have to give your real name. I was simply ‘D.’ They have, I suspect, phone records, but if you have a chuckaway unregistered mobile, as I had, then you’re untraceable. There are still (a few) public phoneboxes. They’re pretty untraceable too.
The whole idea is just wrong.