I have no shame that Samaritans were there for me at a difficult time. Some people might be hiding their true feelings and Samaritans are there to hear them.
Reaching her lowest, Roxy called Samaritans. Years later in 2021, after a close friend took her life during the pandemic, Roxy signed up to be a listening volunteer.
I decided I wanted to be a volunteer for a number of reasons. Samaritans had really helped me, alongside my counsellor, to get through a difficult time. My dad also took his own life – I didn’t know my dad closely, but it’s something that has been difficult to process and another example if suicide touching my life. And then in 2020, one of my friends, Jess, took her own life during lockdown. It was a huge loss to so many and the journey that I went on being bereaved by suicide was very complicated and unsure.
I buried my grandad five years ago. It came with it’s own destruction and sadness, but you can sort of justify that kind of death by thinking he had a good life and lived to a good age. But at my friend’s funeral, it was a sadness that I couldn’t comprehend. I thought there must be something I could do.
I started to do a lot of research around suicide and I ended up through completing a suicide prevention course. That encouraged me talk about suicide and equipped me to offer support where needed.
When lost my granddad, I went down a very dark path that I didn’t quite realise I was on at the time. I’m a very positive, happy person naturally but my body began to show signs of stress. Even at the point of counselling, I was still in denial about what I was going through and thought there must be a physical reason.
I started having intrusive thoughts and suicidal thoughts. I was trying to be strong for my family and I didn’t understand these things. I got to a point of feeling horrendous and I ended up calling Samaritans myself a handful of times. Even to say that out loud now makes me feel quite emotional. I feel like people who call are often at the end of their resources. It made me feel quite sad for myself.
It helped me so much to talk to someone that wasn’t my family or friends. If I was to say to someone I knew that I was feeling suicidal, I think it would hugely panic them and that was something that stopped me sharing how I was feeling. So, to have that safe space to share with Samaritans was invaluable to me.
I saw an ad online to volunteer for Samaritans. I thought, I don’t need to call now but I’m now in a position where I’m comfortable with my own mental health and talking about it, that I could help someone else. I kept thinking of my friend Jess, and how if she might have called Samaritans and I could have been on the other end of the phone and listened to her, or even been there for her in the final moments of her life, it was something I wanted to do.
I did question whether or not I had time to volunteer and I admit went into it with a flexible mindset, thinking I’ll see how it is and I can always drop out. But as soon as I was in training and among all those amazing people, I thought, I have to make time for this. Every time I walk into the duty room, I think of Jess and I think if I can pick up the phone and help one person tonight – it could be Jess, it could be someone else’s dad, then that’s what motivates me to do it and keeps me volunteering weekly.
It’s important to break the stigma around contacting Samaritans. Because I am positive – people said, o what you struggled? I have no shame that Samaritans were there for me at a difficult time. Some people might be hiding their true feelings and Samaritans are there to hear that.
I have a horse called Norma – we’ve had her since she was bred. I spend time with her every morning and night and ride competitions with her. I also just completed a triathlon this weekend. At the start of the year, I couldn’t swim so I set myself a goal in January to complete a triathlon in May. I had a fear of swimming and couldn’t put my head under. So, I had a lesson every Monday. It was a short one, but I completed the triathlon and I even won it! I usually do a Samaritans shift on Wednesdays, 7 – 10pm and I book in my overnight shift every night. I find it a really helpful anchor to encourage me to take a down weekend.
You go into the duty room and with fellow volunteers, there’s such a wide network of people and they care about me. I know I could pick up the phone to anyone and they would be a Samaritan to me and give me comfort. I know I could talk to them about anything.
When you have those calls where you get a sense of helping that one person – a call I had last night where the caller said to me ‘thank you’ after an hour of speaking and exploring some really difficult things. He was so thankful and kind and saying nice things to me, I actually felt very overwhelmed and struck by it. It bought me back to why I volunteer – I’ve cared for this guy and he’s opened up and he was very generous by saying thank you at the end, which you don’t always know what happens or get that moment.