I love Twitter, it’s great because things crop up which I might never see or hear about without Twitter.
Today I saw two things I wanted to blog about so this is one of them! I would say there is a blog post already on this which is great (@elphiemcdork) and have just seen one pop up from @weirdsid which I haven’t read but I’m sure will be great having read her comments on Twitter so please check them out!
Today I logged on to Twitter and saw #SamaritanRadar trending. I also saw lots of angry tweets which naturally piqued my interest. I’m a long time supporter of the Samaritans particularly as I volunteer in a similar capacity. I know a few volunteers and they are so amazing and dedicated.
Despite volunteering myself, I don’t think I could be a Sams volunteer. The main reason is that with my voluntary role there is a stage at which confidentiality can be breached as we work with children. Sams confidentiality is different as the focus is about choice for the caller. That choice could involve the caller wanting to die by suicide with someone on the end of the phone call and the Sams volunteer would have to respect that. I get that, I just don’t think I could do it myself so I am full of admiration for those who do.
All my previous thoughts about Sams made me really confused about the Samaritan Radar app. From my understanding, and I will qualify this by saying that I accept this is a new idea and like most things can be changed, it’s an app which people (I will call them Tweeter A) can sign up to which will identify trigger words in the tweets of the people that are being followed (Tweeter B), an email is sent to Tweeter A highlighting that Tweeter B has sent some tweets that have the trigger words in with some advice about how to support Tweeter B.
I think the intention is well meaning. Support services are being pushed to the limit and the reality is there are not enough people to support everybody so why not involve the wider community to help support others?
Well for a number of reasons really and a number of the comments below seem to have been raised already.
1) It takes the choice away, a tweet sent at 4am in the morning could be seen by someone at 9am when they are logged onto their emails. That person may be in a completely different state of mind at 9am compared to 4am. They may have sent the tweet at a particular person who may have responded in an appropriate way and supported that person. Responding to a historic tweet could well assist with those feelings to resurface.
Also from Tweeter A’s perspective..you wake up at 9am. You check your emails and see someone has tweeted that they are going to take their life at 3am and that they have already taken a heap of drugs. What would go through your head? My thought process? Absolute fear and guilt. Fear that they have already died due to the 6 hours lapsing and guilt that they weren’t awake at 3am to support that person.
2) Training. Sams volunteers are special. But they’re special because they go through intensive training. People who engage and support people who are suicidal understand that saying that you feel like you want to die or feel suicidal doesn’t necessarily mean you actually want to die. It’s difficult to explain but put simply, some want to die because they want to end their life. Others want to die because they want to get themselves out of a painful situation and think that the only option is to end their life. If you speak to someone in the latter camp, you need to approach support in a completely different way otherwise you could risk alienating the person by not listening to and acknowledging their very real feelings. Sending an ambulance to someone who is in the latter camp is not helpful. It causes panic and does not address why someone is feeling that way.
3) Anonymity and trolling – the sad fact is there are some vile trolls out there. There are chat rooms where people with suicidal feelings can join where discussions are held about how to best to commit suicide. I went and googled some (purely out of the belief that there cannot be web sites like this) and THERE ARE! If someone is vulnerable already why give trolls access to those people easily? Who will police the support that is given to those people.
Also Sams is anonymous. Where I volunteer it’s a unique feature that encourages young people to keep using the service. They don’t feel judged because noone else knows their background. They can say what they want and then move on. It’s their choice what to say and it’s all about the person.
I hope Sams will take note of the concerns. I think they will. Well meaning but needs some serious thought.