Samaritans began in 1953 in London, founded by a vicar called Chad Varah. Throughout his career Chad had offered counselling to his parishioners, and wanted to do something more specific to help people struggling to cope and possibly contemplating suicide. Felicity Varah Harding, Chad's daughter, talks about her father:
This interview was filmed by Central London Samaritans.
The need for our support is growing all the time. Each year, we respond to more than 5.7 million calls for help. Three times more people die by suicide than are killed in road accidents in the UK.
As you may know, the human tragedy of suicide affects so many more lives than just the one that has been lost. For every person who takes their own life, there are friends, partners, children, relatives, carers and colleagues left behind. It is estimated that the average number of people affected by a suicide can range from six to over sixty. Any of these affected people may need us, too.
Your legacy will let us keep branches open for those who need us round the clock, and continue lowering the cost of calling Samaritans. With your help we’ll be able to expand and keep up with evolving communications, making sure that whenever and however someone chooses to make a call for help, it’ll never go unanswered.
My youngest daughter Emily* tried to take her own life when she was in her twenties. She had suffered with depression for some time, and found it difficult to deal with her thoughts and feelings.
I can’t begin to describe how painful it is to see your child feel this helpless. When things were particularly difficult for Emily, she turned to Samaritans for support. She found it difficult opening up to anyone who was close to her, and Samaritans gave her that safe space she needed to talk about how she was feeling.
After speaking to Samaritans, life became better for Emily. She is working through her problems and talks to me and her dad if things are starting to get on top of her.
I will always be grateful to Samaritans, and by leaving a legacy I can help them be there for more people like my daughter.
*Names have been changed to protect identity