What is Befriending?

Experts tell us the truly suicidal, of all ages, do not want to die—they just want to end whatever is causing the pain—be it physical, emotional or both.

Experts tell us, the truly suicide believe:

  • There are no options for ending the pain and therefore no hope.
  • No one cares if they live or die.
  • They are a burden to loved ones and friends.
  • Without options, their life is out of control.
  • The only control they have is over their own death.

What is Befriending?

A non-religious, philanthropic organization, The Samaritans of RI is devoted to helping those who are hopeless, alone, grieving or suicidal through our volunteer-run programs.   The Samaritans of Rhode Island is an independent, local branch of  an international humanitarian movement of Samaritan or befriending organizations with more than 31,000 volunteers in almost 40 countries.

We practice a communications-based response we call “befriending,” which emphasizes listening to what a person in crisis is feeling and thinking without expressing personal judgments.

Giving a caller a safe place and an opportunity to express what is troubling him or her allows the caller to take the first steps to actually feeling empowered and in control of their situation. Many callers will feel better and more in control, even if no noticeable change has occurred, other than someone  listened as well as  provided empathy and support in their moment of crisis.

Most callers to The Samaritans’ Crisis Hotline/Listening Line are not suicidal or in crisis but are in need of someone to listen. We encourage new callers to become daily supported callers.

Through befriending, we help people in crisis; recovering from a crisis; or who have recovered.  We provide emotional support when callers are in care; out of care or for so many – when care is never going to be an option.

Our volunteers and programs do not replace professional medical, mental health, social service or pastoral care but can provide important continuity of medical and behavioral health care. We also provide supportive services between appointments or when family and friends are not available.

The Samaritans help people around the world through befriending and it is amazing to see how a problem that seems so great and daunting, can be significantly helped with just a little kindness.

Our efforts are consistent with the suicide prevention goals of the U.S. Surgeon General and the RI Department of Health.

Suicide Prevention Resources for Rhode Island Residents

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