The Samaritans of New York

Established in 1983, the Samaritans of New York (a non-denominational, 501(c)(3) corporation registered with the Charities Division of The State of New York), a member of the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network (with 400 centers in 42 countries, from Argentina, Bosnia and Great Britain to India, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe), has been the major provider of suicide prevention, education and awareness programs and services in New York City for over 25 years.

In contract with the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, NYS Office of Mental Health, Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the City Council, Samaritans operates:

  • the City’s only confidential 24-hour crisis response hotline
  • the City’s primary suicide prevention public education program
  • a series of support groups for those who have lost loved ones to suicide
  • ongoing public advocacy and community outreach initiatives to promote prevention

The Samaritans mission is to prevent suicide by providing immediate and ongoing support to those in crisis, teaching caregivers the most effective ways to prevent suicide, and making the public aware of the suicide epidemic and the keys to prevention.

To this end, Samaritans of New York’s 24-hour hotline responded to 65,000 calls from people in crisis in 2009. Its suicide survivor program provided support to close to 100 people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Samaritans public education program taught suicide awareness and prevention skills to hundreds of lay and professional provider staff at public and private schools, community-based organizations and government agencies. Its technical support and consultation services provided strategic planning, program and materials development and staff training to government agencies, non-profits, educational organizations, small businesses and major corporations.

Today, over 300 NYC community-based human and social service agencies, over 1,000 NYC public schools and a cross-section of government departments (including NYPD, FDNY, Human Resources Administration, Department of Aging, Health & Hospitals Corporation, etc.) continually send their provider staff to Samaritans public education workshops and conferences. Agencies, programs and schools choose to send their staff to Samaritans training programs because of the intensive, information-rich quality of its presentations, the fact that it engages frontline staff on a professional and a personal level and its methodology is reality-based, grounded in their everyday work experience.

Resultingly, Samaritans has trained and provided consultation services to over 30,000 lay and professional providers serving every culture, population and risk-group imaginable in NYC, including AIDS coalitions, victims services agencies, alcohol and drug programs, groups serving the unemployed, homeless, veterans, immigrants, at-risk youth, social work schools, health programs and criminal justice agencies, such as: NYC Department of Education; NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene; U.S. Coast Guard; NYPD; EMS; Coalition for the Homeless; Safe Horizon; Administration for Children’s Services; HIP Health Plan of NY; Brooklyn AIDS Task Force; Aetna Employee Assistance Program; DC37 Municipal Employees Legal Services; Mt. Sinai Rape Crisis; U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs; Fordham/Tremont Community Mental Health Center; Columbia University; GMHC; Alzheimer’s Foundation; etc.

The effectiveness of Samaritans educational programs has been documented in the noted international journal, Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention (November 2006), where it was reported that the Samaritans suicide prevention training “increased the abilities, awareness and confidence levels of people whose job it is on a daily basis to provide care, comfort and support for those who are in crisis and at risk for suicide” and most recently in the British Journal of Social Work (2015).

Samaritans is a founding member of the National Council for Suicide Prevention, New York State Suicide Prevention Coalition, NYC Suicide Prevention Consortium and works collaboratively with clinicians, researchers, policymakers, those who oversee government programs, community-based organizations and groups that work with and represent the suicide survivor community.