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Samaritans of New York Targets Service Industry

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 General News J E 4
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NEW YORK, Dec. 21 The Samaritans of New York is providing resources that could save people's lives to more than 250 NYC hotels, bars, department stores and health clubs to help staffers identify and respond to customers who are in crisis and may be suicidal over the holiday season.

The non-religious, non-profit Samaritans, a local branch of the world's largest suicide prevention network, has compiled a plain language (user-friendly and easy-to-understand) resource kit for people in the service industry who will come in contact with tens of thousands of visitors this holiday season. It includes guidelines on identifying and interacting with people who could be in crisis, statistics on suicide and information about the resources available to help someone whether they are a visitor to NYC or a local resident.

"Mental health workers and educators are given many more resources than people working in the service industry or in corporate America," said Alan Ross, executive director of The Samaritans of New York. "This campaign, which is funded by the NYS Office of Mental Health as part of Commissioner Michael Hogan's emphasis on decreasing the number of suicides throughout the state, targets the employees of NYC establishments who provide services to, literally, millions of people - a percentage of whom are at risk for suicide."

The current economy and the high unemployment rate have contributed to an increase in the overall number of suicides in the US, most notably in middle-age men. The Samaritans confidential 24-hour suicide prevention hotline has expanded its coverage for the holiday season in response to these increases and new research suggesting "a strong relationship between unemployment, the economy and suicide.(1)"

"A significant number of attempted suicides in NYC are committed by out-of-town guests and tourists," explained Ross. "By targeting local businesses with employees who come in contact with these people over the holidays, we have tremendous potential to positively impact suicide prevention, and intervention, and ultimately increase awareness and save lives."

About The Samaritans

The Samaritans of New York is the local branch of the international humanitarian movement with centers in 42 countries. A non-religious, non-profit organization, Samaritans is devoted to helping people who are in crisis and feeling suicidal. Volunteer-run programs practice a communications-based response called "befriending," which emphasizes listening to what a person in crisis is feeling and thinking without expressing personal judgments or opinions. The Samaritans 24-hour suicide prevention hotline is the city's only confidential hotline devoted to preventing suicide. It operates seven days a week and is staffed by volunteers who go through intensive training.

1. Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2008 found at SPRC.org

SOURCE The Samaritans of New York
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