Most people who often contemplate committing suicide are normally ignored and ridiculed as lacking proper thinking, thus their propensity to commit suicide.
This is despite the fact that there can be numerous serious reasons which might have led them to that stage yet their plight is considered of little concern by many people.
After experiencing a multitude of tribulations in their daily lives and having totally lost hope, they feel alienated from society. They begin to feel isolated, with no resolution to their emotional problems.
It is at this critical time that they need care, assistance, advice and most of all someone to talk to.
However, an organisation called the Samaritans Befrienders was founded in 1963 with the core objective of catering for people who have visible signs of stress indicating that they have psychological trauma which may lead them to commit suicide.
The formation of the organisation came about as a crucial measure to address unprecedented disregard towards people experiencing immense emotional despair and those with psychological problems.
The organisation was formed as a welfare and rehabilitation institution for those tempted to commit suicide.
The organisation’s trustee, Samuel Banda, said they offered free counselling services to families and individuals of all ages from all walks of life to address their different concerns.
He said their services were open to everyone — children, youths, adults and the aged. Banda said all their clients are treated in an equal manner regardless of age, class, race, nationality and gender as problems affect everyone regardless.
Banda said in challenging times these people are often in dire need of a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, someone willing to listen to them, but not judge them. He said they need someone who will be forthcoming in giving advice and not force or dictate to them hence the Samaritans are a life-saver for many of them.
“More than 40 to 50 people visit the Samaritans every month and the Samaritans have predominantly gained momentum as a remedy for the distressed and a place to share the burdens that have long been embedded in their hearts,” said Banda.
He said matters of the heart are often hard to divulge or share yet they inflict unparallelled pain and trauma. He said Samaritans had shown great consideration to the emotional pain faced by such people hence decided to give emotional support to the affected people.
The trustee said the Samaritans were available on a daily basis for 24 hours of the day for those who need their services.
“By saying we deal with matters of the heart, we indirectly refer to the fact that we deal with any issues, even regarding marital, premarital and financial issues. Nothing is regarded as worthless, every matter is discussed in its own way with a distinct relevance,” said Banda.
Organisations dealing with suicide-related issues are scarce in Zimbabwe and if available, are not yet known to the public. Samaritans engage volunteers who are carefully selected and trained to offer counselling and they observe confidentiality on all matters discussed except with the consent of clients.
“We respect client-based decisions, especially with regard to anonymity. Some clients prefer not to be known. Samaritans work with a strict code not to impose religion, belief or conviction on clients,” said Banda.
The organisation also provides telephone counselling in which problems and solutions are explored over the phone.
They also offer the same services through mail where problems and solutions are conveyed in hard copy through the postal system as well as face-to-face counselling.
Bulawayo Samaritans branch director John Goora said the organisation’s successes and failures were difficult to quantify because their clients were varied and their main objective was to advise.
He said people came to them at their own discretion. Goora said they do not solicit for business and it is the prerogative of clients to make a decision to withdraw from their previous state of mind.
Goora said the response of the people who came to seek advice and emotional support was thrilling.
“Feedback is not an obligation; it is only an onus and our successes are exhilarating,” he said.
Samaritans do not have a defined financial base. They sustain their business through well-wishers’ donations while some of the money comes from their leased properties.
The organisation is reportedly looking forward to sustaining its core business and designing frameworks with the view to celebrating its 51st anniversary in 2014.
To consult the Samaritans, visit number 97 Josiah Tongogara Street, Bulawayo, or call 09-65000/65050