In a national statistic, it was shown that the ratio of suicides from 2007 to 2010 was 1.3 for every 100,000 people. The rate of suicides also increased during the three-year period, involving the population between the ages of 24 to 44.
Statistics also showed that men outnumber women three to one, while the Chinese had the highest number of suicides at 48%, followed by Indians (21%), Malays (18%) and other races (13%).
These statistics were recorded during 2007–2010 and some of the data may have changed throughout the years, but it’s still troubling that a portion of the population are contemplating an end to their lives.
Support groups like Befrienders are here for that reason.
Befrienders are a group of volunteers who lend their ears and offer a shoulder to cry on. People can call for emotional support, while others do it because they’re sad, angry, lonely, or even feeling suicidal. Established by professional psychiatrists and psychologists, their volunteers are open to talk to callers of all sorts.
We were curious about what actually happens when you call. After all, everyone has low points, but sometimes, you’ll hesitate to call in because you don’t even know what will happen.
Recently, I decided to give the service a try to find out a little more about what actually goes down when you pick up a phone to call them. Here’re 8 things to expect when you’re on phone with a volunteer.
1. You don’t get asked for personal details.
Some might get deterred from the simple act of calling because they’re afraid that their identity will be revealed. However, when you call Befrienders, they won’t ask for any personal details like your full name or house address.
If you’re uncomfortable with using your real name, there’s also nothing wrong with using an alias to talk to them. It is simply more important for them to secure a comfortable environment before starting a conversation.
2. You don’t even get asked for details that are too personal or specific.
During the conversation, they will not ask for any details that may help them to find out who you actually are. This is to ensure that they’re not going to be able to identify you, so rest assured that your identity is safe.
This confidentiality and anonymity is part of their efforts to encourage more people who are struggling to call in and receive the support they need.
3. They listen before saying anything.
The volunteer I spoke to didn’t interrupt and there were no long winded answers. There was no sense of having an opinion being forced onto me.
She waited patiently for me to finish talking before responding. More importantly, when she replied, I could tell she was really listening, instead of just mouthing empty comments.
4. They aren’t pushy.
If you’re sharing a story or talking about the issue you’re dealing with, the volunteer will not push for more details. She did not demand for me to disclose any more information that I felt less comfortable sharing.
Rather than being treated just as a mine for information so that she can “fix my problem”, she allowed the space and time to just reveal and release as much as I was comfortable with.
5. They don’t feed empty reassurances that “everything is going to be ok”.
One thing that everyone should know is that empty words hurt a lot. The volunteer I spoke to from Befrienders stayed far away from it. She didn’t give any empty words or promise that everything is going to be alright.
Rather than relying on shallow reassurances that things will work out, she tried to help me focus on positive things and also on the situation at hand.
Sometimes, all you need to do is take a step back to view everything as a whole, rather than be told that it’s going to be fine.
6. They don’t belittle your issues.
Sometimes, you hesitate to talk to others because you’re afraid that your problem might be seen as trivial in their eyes.
The volunteer gave no indication that she thought my issues were silly, or easily dismissed. Never once did she tell me, “Just get over it,” or “How can that be a problem?”.
As someone who has often felt that my issues wouldn’t even worth considering, having someone treat them seriously was reassuring.
7. They help you to break down your feelings.
Sometimes when you’re caught up in the flurry of emotions, it’s very hard for you to sort out how you’re actually feeling, which can lead to the confusion and distress of your low moments.
At strategic points, she helped me to examine my reactions and feelings, and then sort through these to help you deal with the situation you’re facing.
8. Even though they’re strangers, you feel like you’re talking to a friend.
Even though we started off as complete strangers, the way she spoke and listened got me treating her as a trustworthy person or even a friend that I can share my problems with.
I felt that this was one of the most important parts of the experience because often, we want a friend who will listen, but we might not have the right friend in mind. This is instead another option that could help.
No shame asking for help.
There are times when people don’t know how to express their pain and suffering, or don’t have a place to vent about what they’re going through.
On the other hand, Befrienders isn’t just for those who have reached the extreme end of the spectrum. They’re also there for anyone who’s going through a hard time and just needs a kind and non-judgmental listening ear.
Mental health is still an issue that isn’t widely discussed in this country. However, there are resources like these are available for those in need. More recognition of their efforts and more awareness of the availability of helplines like these might just be the baby steps advancing Malaysia forward as a society as a whole.
You can find out more about Befrienders Malaysia on their website here.
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Feature Image Credit: Chai