Mayor Walsh announces partnership with Samaritans to promote suicide prevention
October 3, 2016
BOSTON - Saturday, October 1, 2016 - At the 5K Samaritans Road Race, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston's partnership with the Samaritans of Boston, leading a citywide initiative to reduce the stigma associated with suicide, create public awareness about suicide prevention and increase support services to individuals in crisis. Samaritans Boston provides life-saving suicide prevention services that include a 24 hour phone/text helpline for people in crisis. Together with the City of Boston, Samaritans will educate workers that have regular contact with high risk populations about suicide prevention.
"Suicide is a public health concern, and educating residents about existing resources, and identifying the risk signs of people who may harm themselves can help save lives," said Mayor Walsh. "As a City, we are only as strong as our people, and I am thankful to partners like the Samaritans for their work to fight suicide and save lives."
Samaritans Gatekeeper Workshops will be presented to City Departments that have regular contact with high-risk populations such as teens, veterans and the elderly. "Gatekeepers," workers who are contact with high risk populations, will learn important information about suicide prevention, including risk factors and warning signs; building resiliency/protective factors; and how to support someone at risk for suicide. Participating departments include The Office of Veteran Services, Boston Centers for Youth and Families' Street Workers and Senior Outreach Program, and the Boston Public Health Commission's Community Initiatives, Recovery Services, Homeless Services and Child, Adolescents and Family Services Program.
In an effort to target teens, the Samaritans were invited to present a Suicide Prevention and Awareness workshop to more than 800 youth participating in the Mayor's SuccessLink summer jobs program. The youth listened to families impacted by a suicide death in their family, learning the warning signs and resources available to them. Each received a co-branded wristband containing the Samaritans toll free call/text crisis line - some of whom have since utilized the crisis line for support.
"Samaritans is thrilled to be working with Mayor Walsh and so many groups in the City of Boston to raise awareness about this issue, and to let people know that suicide is preventable," said Steve Mongeau, Executive Director of Samaritans, Inc. "Through this partnership, we will help those who are struggling, and educate many about the warning signs and risk factors surrounding suicide."
In Massachusetts, suicides are four times more frequent than homicides. Suicide has been steadily on the rise in Massachusetts, increasing by 38% since tracking began in 2003. However, the numbers have leveled off over the last four years and there is hope that we can reduce loss to suicide in the years ahead.
"Suicide does not discriminate. Suicide impacts people regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity," said Felix G. Arroyo, Chief of the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services. "This partnership will ensure we continue open and honest conversations about preventing suicide."
Residents who are interesting in joining the City of Boston and Samaritans Inc. in their mission to prevent suicide are encouraged to explore joining the the Samaritans Hotline.
For over 40 years, Samaritans, Inc. volunteers have answered more than 2.5 million phone calls. The agency has trained more than 4,500 volunteers and instructed more than 100,000 individuals through its Community Education and Outreach Program, and has supported over 10,000 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. For more information about Samaritans, please visit www.samaritanshope.org or contact Samaritans' business office at 617-536-2460 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Samaritans statewide helpline is 877-870-4673, taking calls and texts 24/7.