Keith’s story

Approaching someone who wanted to take their own life inspired Keith to go on to become a listening volunteer. Now a volunteer at the Liverpool branch, Keith says that he gets more out of volunteering than he gives.

"I’ve been a volunteer going on three years. Outside of Samaritans, I’m a governor of Clatterbridge hospital. I’m also doing a counselling degree, I’ve just started. I was involved in men’s mental health clubs. I’ve always had it in me to have a listening ear – to let people offload and not take it home. That’s why I started with Samaritans.

“My training to be a volunteer was on zoom. Our training group got so close and we still are – it’s a variety of ages, but we all get on so well.  For the first time, age doesn’t come into it. I’ve found friends. I used to think I was on my own. It’s lovely to go into an environment and know that people don’t want anything off you – they just like you for being you.

“Some years ago, I was involved in an accident. Along with others, I tried to save a person’s life that was involved, but they didn’t make it. I had to go for counselling and in some ways that day will always stay in my thoughts but I'm lucky I got the help I needed... There are so many people out there that do not get the help they need.

“A few years after that, I was on my way to work and I approached someone who was about to take their own life. I’ve always had empathy for others, but this experience really opened my eyes. They were in a dangerous place and I noticed on my way out somewhere.


I decided to approach them and begin talking – they felt completely alone in what they were going through emotionally and mentally. I’ve had my own journey with mental health, so I could relate to them in some respects.


"I was talking with them for around an hour. Just talking. That person did go on to get the help they needed. It showed me that there are people out there that need that type of support and don’t get it.

“A lot of people think Samaritans are just there for suicide. Don’t get me wrong, we are there for people feeling suicidal, but we’re also there for lonely people. The variety of calls we have is so broad. The best call I had was with a woman who was in a really low place in her life. By the end of the call, we were both crying with laughter - she said to me it was the first time she’d laughed in 6 months. It was a gift.

“Whatever that person’s dark thoughts are, the volunteer has changed them just by sitting there listening – to me, that’s the glory of life.

“I never spoke about how I felt for a long time. I was such a free spirit. I hadn’t seen this side of life. It’s amazing how fast things can happen out of the blue if you aren’t in control of your own thoughts, you can get stuck in that hole, and you can’t find your way out. Letting a person stand next to you as you figure it out yourself. It sounds nothing, but for the person struggling it can mean so much.

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