Today’s local hero knows the power of offering empathy and compassion to people who are struggling with depression, isolation, or suicidal thoughts. Christine is one of the volunteers who answers the hotline for The Samaritans of Fall River/New Bedford.
Her work was inspired by the loss of her brother who died by suicide. She is motivated, she said, by her own trauma to help others who may be feeling the way her brother did.
“I find that when on the hotline, people call in and they just want to be heard,” she writes.
What she does: Volunteer Coordinator at the Samaritans FR/NB
Her superpower is: Empathy, and compassion, understanding
How does your work contribute to better mental health in the Southcoast?
I help in keeping the Samaritans suicide prevention hotline running smoothly. People who are depressed, lonely, isolated, suicidal call in every day and we talk them through their difficulties. We provide them a listening, compassionate ear. We are that person who you can contact right away. You don't have to wait for an appointment. It's free, and we are always there to help.
What inspired you to work to end mental stigma?
My brother Mike died by suicide in 2016. It's been the trauma that changed my life. I have lived the devastation of suicide and want to do anything in my power to help people who are feeling this way. Not only for them, but for the people who love them, whose lives would forever be changed afterward.
I find that when on the hotline, people call in and they just want to be heard. They need to get it out and need an impartial, listening ear. I've seen how someone at the beginning of a call is in such crisis, but by the end of the call is calm and feeling better. We can be that ear in the interim when they can't talk to their therapist and they feel they can't talk to family or friends about certain things. People will often thank us, and tell us how much listening to them has helped at the end of the call.
What's your advice to others looking for a way to contribute?
For anyone who truly wants to touch a life this is a great thing to be able to do, and it's an honor to help others in this way. If someone dies from cancer, there is not stigma around it. Mental health, and people who die from suicide are put in a different category, when it's just as deadly and disabling as cancer or any other disease.
Are you looking for volunteers?
What's the best way for people to get in touch, follow you and/or learn more about what you do?
Samaritans of FR/NB Inc. on Facebook and Instagram, email@example.com, http://www.samaritans-fallriver.org/