I worked with the non-profit organization, Samaritans of NYC, which is a 24-hour crisis hotline for those who are contemplating suicide. During the course of the project, my views and attitude about teenage suicide changed exponentially. I used to think that suicide was something that happened without warning. I learned that most people who commit suicide speak about it first. This fact makes suicide preventable. I realized that suicide was not just an unfortunate fact of life. Having someone there to listen at any time of the day, makes the difference. Further, confidentiality allows for free and open communication without judgment.
The project not only educated me about suicide, but it also taught me valuable skills. I learned the importance of being organized, persistent, and flexible. Gathering facts and statistics from the Assistant Director of Samaritans, Joy, required organizational skills and determination. I had to organize the meeting with the Assistant Director being mindful of everyone’s busy schedules. I emailed the Assistant Director several times to organize a time when we could interview her and learn more about Samaritans. We could not visit the site of the hotline because it is confidential, so the Assistant Director met us at school. I learned that when one has to get a job done, he or she must be flexible and solution oriented. When we found out that we could not make a site visit due to confidentiality concerns, I had to come up with an alternative solution for getting to know more about The Samaritans.
The most challenging part of the project was organizing the interview. Unfortunately, the Assistant Director had to cancel twice due to other obligations. When we finally had our meeting with the Assistant Director, we were almost at the deadline to do the site visit. Therefore, we made sure we were thorough in our questioning to be prepared for the presentation.
The most rewarding part of this project was presenting the issue of teenage suicide and our non-profit organization to our classmates. Education leads to prevention. I was gratified to know that just telling my classmates about suicide, prevention, and Samaritans, could impact the life of a classmate or the friend of a classmate.
Regrettably, I will not be able to continue with volunteer work for Samaritans because volunteers generally work on the hotline, and they must be 21 years or over. However, I would like to still focus on this social issue. I learned that multilingual resources for suicide prevention in New York City are scarce. This summer, I am traveling to Spain for a language immersion program. If I can become fluent, I might look into working with an organization that helps educate Spanish speaking people in New York City on suicide prevention.