Consider hiring more full-time staff

One life lost to suicide is one too many, and we need more people who are willing to be a listening ear to those in distress (SOS: More volunteers needed to lend an ear; Sept 11).

However, I believe that more can be done to incentivise prospective counsellors.

Currently, the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) hotline is available 24 hours, and volunteers are needed to attend to calls made at night.

They are needed every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays.

Working at night is physically and mentally exhausting, and allowances or incentives should be given for the work the volunteers put in.

It is already very difficult for part-time volunteers to juggle family life and their full-time job, so I am not surprised by the low number of volunteers.

Perhaps, the organisation should look at offering more full-time permanent job opportunities.

This will ensure a higher level of commitment, and we are likely to have more people who can attend to calls.

The pay offered should be competitive.

Just like how doctors who do night calls and engineers who work night shifts get allowances, people who attend to calls at night should be given allowances as well.

The unseen heroes attending to every call made to the SOS are empathetic, loving, patient and non-judgmental.

They have worked tirelessly to prevent suicides. It is time we start recognising them for their efforts.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Consider hiring more full-time staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe