Why I am a Volunteer at Maithri

Rajesh, a senior Volunteer at Maithri has this to say about volunteering at Maithri:

It had always been my conviction that no one really wants to die and individuals opt for suicide only as a last resort and that a suicidal individual can be brought back to normal life, if supported with care and compassion. However, I never imagined that a lay-person like me could help with suicide prevention. It was one of Maithri’s advertisements inviting volunteers for suicide prevention activities that encouraged me to give expression to my convictions.

Even though I was in a position to spare time from my busy work, I knew that suicide prevention is a serious matter. If an individual is already determined to take his/her life, how can assistance be provided? How can a stranger deal effectively with their frustrations and desperations? If there are solutions to their problems, how am I to find them? Will my sincere efforts be taken as intrusions and resented? These were a few of the apprehensions that overwhelmed my mind as I enrolled into Maithri’s volunteer training programme.

The training programme was a revelation. When concepts of suicide-prevention were explained to me by Maithri’s senior volunteers, many of my apprehensions vanished. I learnt about “Befriending” – how to show care and how to listen when people talk about their suicidal feelings. I also realized the paramount importance of accepting and respecting individuals – how not to suffocate them with advice, how to guard their right to confidentiality and so on.

Today, I often return from Maithri’s befriending center with a feeling of satisfaction that my efforts too might have contributed to saving the life of a fellow-being. To be present at the center for four hours every week, week after week, requires some careful planning of my activities; but the feeling of satisfaction my volunteer-ship with Maithri gives, is my greatest reward.

2 thoughts on “Why I am a Volunteer at Maithri”

  1. Rajesh Pillai (46), an advocate, has been volunteering for 18 years. He presently volunteers at Maithri, a helpline set up for suicide prevention in Kochi by Befrienders India. “Helplines like these don’t just receive calls from people who are suicidal or have mental health issues. Anyone can call us, and we listen. We cannot and do not judge them, cannot chide them even if their concern appears inconsequential,” he tells TNM.

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