Help troubled peers
Hong Kong students face a lot of pressure because of their heavy workload and never-ending exams and tests.
Without a support network, many of them have no way to express their feelings. This could lead to chronic depression.
The Samaritans (Hong Kong), Kelly Support Group and Outward Bound Hong Kong have been organising an annual programme to help students gain a better understanding of depression and to prevent teen suicide.
Participants in the Youth Suicide Prevention Project will take part in a seven-day Outward Bound training camp in July. They will also attend eight workshops, where they will learn about the causes of depression and counselling techniques.
They will help run Samaritans' projects from September to December and visit schools to give talks on suicide prevention.
Organisers hope that the participants will be able to promote the message of suicide prevention in schools. Participants should hopefully be able to identify suicidal teenagers and set up a peer network.
'Given adequate training, young people can become great listeners and support those in need,' said Peter Pulsford, the outreach co-ordinator at Samaritans.
'Through the workshops, they can also learn to empathise with troubled youngsters and actively reach out to at-risk youth.'
Precious Margaret Santons took part in last year's programme.
'I learned how to provide counselling to troubled youngsters. Those skills are valuable as I can't learn them from school,' said the Form Seven student from Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo).
Kevin Kwong said the project raised his awareness of teenage suicide and depression.
'The problem of youth depression is worsening in Hong Kong. Many depressed teenagers won't take the initiative to talk about their problems. Instead of bottling everything up, they should seek help,' said the Form Seven student from Sha Tin College.
Eighteen volunteers will be recruited this year. The project is open to 16- to 18-year-old students who are able to communicate in English.
The programme fee is HK$300, which will be waived for students with financial difficulties. Candidates will be interviewed in May.
The deadline for applications is May 8.
Interested students can ask their teachers for application forms or contact Mr Pulsford by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit www.samaritans.org