Counsellors trained on financial difficulties

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am

A suicide-prevention group is stepping up training on counselling callers who have financial difficulties.

Suicide Prevention Services handled 4,200 calls in September and October, a 5 per cent increase over the same period last year, said Susanna Chung San-san, a member of its board of governors.

About 25 per cent were related to financial difficulties, which made the group realise the need to train its volunteers.

Eighty per cent of the callers were aged 30 to 50, and high-earning professionals. Many more men called in than previously.

'We are training our volunteers so they will know how to handle callers with financial problems,' Ms Chung said.

Training this month would involve three sessions, with up to 40 volunteers in each session, she said.

The service already had about 280 volunteers who underwent training in handling calls when they signed up. This year, 100 new volunteers have been recruited.

Ms Chung said most of the callers in the past two months had been considered to be at 'high risk' of committing suicide.

'They are really stressed and depressed. We will use all our efforts to listen to them actively, befriending them so they can share their burden with us emotionally,' she said.

The group is also helping to raise awareness by co-presenting the play 'night, Mother with the American Community Theatre. It will be staged from tomorrow to November 15 at the Fringe Club.

The 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by American playwright Marsha Norman tells of the final hour in the life of a young woman.

'It is really a play that touches all the essences of our service, including signs and symptoms, who the caller is, who the victim is, who the affected person is,' Ms Chung said.

'All are touched on and displayed in this play.'

As well as a 24-hour hotline, Suicide Prevention Services provides an outreach service for the elderly and a survivors' project.