For 25-year-old student Liam (not his real name), it was an introduction by the teaching assistant during his psychology class in his university that he was made aware of the SOS Care Text service. It then piqued his interest and motivated him to sign up with SOS as a volunteer.
People expressing suicidal thoughts are common and sometimes, Liam had to take on long hours of emotional support to ensure the safety of the distressed individuals who would have thought to kill themselves. Although he is a full-time student and at times are concurrently juggling multiple commitments, Liam has not thought of walking away. "After I got the hang of things, it got better so I didn’t think it was necessary for me to take a break."
"I think people in general don’t like seeing other people suffer so that’s the same for me too. And if I have the ability to help them lessen their suffering without compromising much on myself, then why not?" Being a "Samaritan", he had a strong sense of belief and duty to serve the community.
"I think the most challenging part initially was being emotionally drained after each session, especially since it was late at night and so you are usually also physically tired by then. But after a few sessions, I think I managed to find ways to cope with the fatigue and feel better during the shifts." When asked about the challenges he has faced.
"It's difficult to manage volunteering and school at first, but I think sticking to a designated day was really helpful as I can plan my day beforehand. I also try to take a longer break in between each shift for self-care. I think after a while, it became a routine and so it was easier to manage now."
Beyond the exhaustion and the calling to provide a support to the clients' emotional needs, he finds it most gratifying when clients expressed gratitude in their conversations.
We provide a safe space when life gets to you. He said, "Once, I heard from a client that the service was really useful for her friend who was going through a difficult phase of her life and she suggested her friends to reach out to us too. I think it’s a testament on how helpful SOS was for her that she would recommend SOS to her friend. It's very encouraging to hear that what we do is helpful to others. "
So, what does "success" mean for him? "Success to me, is when our clients no longer need to approach SOS for support anymore because they are doing well on their own."
Like Liam, SOS volunteers are ordinary people from different walks of life. They are just like you and me. They each have their own occupation, families and personal commitments while being able to make a difference through their efforts in giving the gift of time and presence to touch the lives of the people who need help.
Keen to know more about how you can provide emotional support to the distressed? Find out more here - https://www.sos.org.sg/volunteer.
THIS PIECE RECOUNTS THE INTERVIEW WITH OUR VOLUNTEER. IF YOU ARE KEEN TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS BLOG, YOU MAY CONTACT US HERE.
KNOW SOMEONE WHO MAY BE FACING A CRISIS OR GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME? LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SOMEONE IN CRISIS, OR FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR SERVICES HERE.
YOU MAY ALSO CHOOSE TO SUPPORT SOS VIA YOUR DONATIONS HERE.