In 1970, a group of Malaysians who were concerned about the emotional well being of the community after the communal riots of 13th May 1969 decided to establish a movement with the assistance of professional psychiatrist and psychologists from University Hospital, Kuala Lumpur. With that the Befrienders was born.
The Befrienders is a non profit organization modeled after Samaritans, a movement which started in London in 1953. Since then, the movement has spread to about 40 countries and now has 300 centers worldwide.
The Befrienders mission
As proclaimed in their website: The primary purpose of centers is to provide emotional support to people who are suicidal, or in general distress. Centers are mainly resourced by volunteers. Anonymity and confidentiality are respected.
The centers are non-political, non-religious and non-sectarian, and volunteers do not seek to impose their own convictions on anyone. Volunteers are selected, trained, mentored and supported by other experienced volunteers and any necessary relevant professional experts.
Where appropriate, callers may be invited to consider seeking professional help in addition to the emotional support offered by the center.
Who are the Befrienders?
Befrienders’ volunteers comes from all walks of life. They are teachers, professionals, secretaries, students, writers, the self-employed, and the retired. The only things they have in common are their ability to put the caller first and to give them unconditional time and space to explore their emotions.
The Befrienders Training Course is a creative learning process during which people work together to share and develop the sum of their knowledge, skills and experience.
Befrienders Public Seminar
In conjuction with the World Suicide Prevention Day, Befrienders of Johor Bahru organized a public seminar themed “Preventing suicide in multicultural societies.” Dr Haslina Mohd Yusof and Mr Gangadara Vadivel spoke on “Management of Depression & Stress” & “National Strategy & Action Plans” towards suicide prevention.
This seminar was aimed at educating the public on the seriousness regarding the state of emotional and psychological health within our communities while introducing effective coping mechanisms in order to deal with crisis.
Mr Gangadara Vadivel, chairman of Befrienders Kuala Lumpur said “we are very concerned about the suicide rates in our country as it is increasing . We are also concerned that in 2010 alone, there were 2400 suicide cases and these figures are alarming.”
For more information on Befrienders’ services visit : www.befrienders.org.my
Video by Lee-Jean, Citizen Journalist