Baffling that helpline is manned by volunteers

Given that the Samaritans of Singapore's suicide-prevention centre's hotline plays an important role in our society and deals with life-and-death situations, it is baffling that it is manned by volunteers and not by fully paid staff (SOS: More volunteers needed to lend an ear; Sept 11).

Suicide prevention requires not only someone who can provide a listening ear, but also someone who can give proper counselling to the callers and, in some instances, dissuade them from possibly ending their lives.

This role requires a well-trained professional.

It is a heavy responsibility that requires someone who is resilient and who can offer good advice even in a challenging situation.

Thrusting such a critical task into the hands of volunteers signals that we underrate its importance.

It also speaks volumes about how we treat those who are on the verge of ending their lives.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Baffling that helpline is manned by volunteers'. Print Edition | Subscribe