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Samaritans on Cape Cod & Islands Welcomes Opportunity for Public Response
Submitted by Stephanie Kelly, Executive Director, Samaritans on Cape Cod & Islands
Date: September 26 ,2019The September 20th Cape Cod Times article reporting unanswered calls coming into the Samaritans hotlines required and received immediate attention.
- Technical issues on the statewide line 877-870-4673 occurred during a period of time when we had a single volunteer assisting other callers. Volunteers avoid ending a current call abruptly to take another. That resulted in a longer than usual wait.
- According to Steve Mongeau, Executive Director of Samaritans, Inc. in Boston, who oversees the statewide line, the problem has been rectified.
- To the best of our knowledge, we have not received any complaints about being disconnected prior to last week. On our internal call lines, our policy was to let calls ring because callers told us they would rather hear a ring than a message. To avoid any possibility of disconnection or unnecessarily long waits, we have implemented a voice message that explains our volunteers are assisting others and encourages the caller to call back shortly. If in crisis, the message encourages the caller to contact 9-1-1.
- Sincere apologies if this temporary situation left the caller who contacted the Cape Cod Times or any other caller without a response.
- Our work is 99% “upstream”, meaning prevention rather than intervention. The majority of calls are from people in need of connection: isolated, lonely, and depressed. Our role is primarily befriending and providing a listening, empathetic ear.
- The number of calls from people at imminent risk is almost non-existent. Calls come through anonymously. Volunteers have no access to Caller ID. If a person were in immediate danger, our only recourse (and our policy) is to get permission from the caller to intervene on their behalf. Over the last five years – over 100,000 calls answered – this situation has occurred only twice.
- We enjoy a very high coverage rate (98%) over three seasons and we face lower numbers when volunteers go away for the winter. Recruitment of more year round as well as seasonal volunteers is a key focus of ours.
- The primary challenge to volunteer recruitment for crisis line coverage is directly related to the misperceptions described above. Potential volunteers fear that they might at some point be responsible for someone’s life or death. That is not the case. We are not “rescuers or fixers.” We are not a mental health agency. We are not 911. What we ARE is a group of caring, compassionate, empathetic listeners and a friendly supportive voice.
- Emotional readiness – survivors who want to be volunteers need time to process their grief and have enough separation so that attention is always on the caller’s immediate needs.
- Geography – volunteers work on site at our Falmouth location so the commute must be realistic for them to be accessible when coverage is needed.
Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands is very interested in facilitating a Safe Place loss survivor group for behavioral health professionals who have lost a client or patient to suicide. We are using this survey to gather information in an effort to make the groups as accessible as possible for those interested in attending. Please take a few minutes to complete this very short survey so that we can determine interest and plan a group that meets your needs. Follow this link to take the survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07egizusiqjz8emxf6/start
Calming Calls — Boston Globe August 2019 https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/08/10/validate-your-pain-new-suicide-prevention-program-cape-cod-rethinking-mental-health-care/ctMjnLsDJ1sNfX4xFUitZJ/story.html
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On June 24, 2019, Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands held its 18th Monica Dickens Golf Tournament fundraiser at the beautiful Pocasset Golf Club. The weather was perfect for the event and everyone enjoyed friendly competition and camaraderie while showing commitment to the Samaritans and its mission! Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped make this event such a success!
On September 22, 2018 The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands held its 11th Annual Upper Cape Bocce Festival fundraiser at Falmouth Academy. Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped make this event such a success!