This helpline is for those in emotional distress and/or feeling suicidal. This means that this service is available for anyone who might be dealing with a day-to-day issue such as a fight with a friend or for anyone who is having thoughts about ending their lives. The helpline is an active listening service, which is confidential and anonymous. The trained volunteers who attend the helpline listen in an accepting, non-judgmental and non-advisory way to any caller in distress. This service is offered from 12 pm – 8 pm on all days. We receive approximately 150-200 calls per month on the helpline.
Along with this, we also offer a walk-in facility for people who are more comfortable having a face-to-face conversation. This is available from 12pm to 5pm between Monday and Saturday at our office. For many people, writing is the best way to express themselves. To reach out to such people, we also offer email support. They write to us about their distress and we support them via mail. Currently, we provide the above mentioned services in three languages only – English, Hindi and Marathi. For those who are not satisfied with the non-advisory approach, we have a comprehensive referral list that comprises of the contacts of various mental health and allied professionals from across the country that we share with the callers upon their request.
Potential volunteers are screened through an interview and group discussion. They then need to undergo a 65 hour training program in `Mindfulness Based Active Listening’ which is followed by a month of supervised calls.
The Awareness program is aimed at sensitizing all possible stakeholders towards issues related to suicide – how to identify signs of stress, distress or feeling suicidal; how to help someone feeling suicidal; how to care for someone who has had a suicide loss. The programs also impart knowledge about simple ways for coping, healing and personal growth. These activity-based psycho-education programs of about 60 minutes to 120 minutes are conducted for children, adolescents and adults at schools, colleges, corporates, housing societies, slums, NGOs, and other community setups. The sessions are adapted to the needs of the group and are facilitated by volunteers.
A potential volunteer, who enjoys interacting with groups, undergoes initial training of 15 hours in related skills such as facilitation and public skills. The trainees also get first-hand practical experience on the field where they are sent as observers for initial sessions. They are then allowed to take on sessions as the lead volunteer.
This program is aimed at creating, maintaining and strengthening the peer support that is present in classrooms. The target population for this program is adolescents and the idea is to create caring communities in educational settings by raising awareness about suicide prevention in a peer group. In this long-term program, volunteers facilitate the process of sensitization of a select group of participants from the classroom issues related to suicide prevention, and enhancement of their listening, self-care and life-skills. The participants also known as ‘peer educators’ then become the catalysts for spreading this awareness and empowering their classmates and their larger social circles. These volunteer Peer Educators from the organisation meet regularly under the guidance of Connecting’s facilitators to discuss the distressing factors among their peers and ways to address them. The outcomes of this program generally involve increased knowledge of suicide warning signs, skills to respond to peers in distress, empathy and active listening skills, increased communication and/or presentation skills, non-judgmental thinking about others, increased self-care, and an awareness of when to protect their own well-being.
Through this program, we reach out to the survivors of suicide – individuals who have attempted suicide and family members of people who have committed suicide. Many survivors feel isolated and alone, wondering if anyone understands their pain. The Survivor Support Program helps them to come to terms with their grief by providing and holding a safe, non-judgemental and accepting space for them, at their doorstep. We do this by visiting survivors at hospitals, in slum communities and also through home visits on need-basis.