Suicide Action Montreal volunteers are recruited, selected and trained by the organization itself. Once candidates are selected, then our experienced volunteers will provide a solid 50-hour training course, which is offered over a period of two non-consecutive weekends. The training is based on the solution-oriented approach and meets with SAM’s mission. This short-term intervention model has been adapted to the four categories representing our clientele:
- those who are thinking about suicide;
- those who are worried about someone in distress;
- those who are grieving a loss by suicide, and
- the workers who support these clients.
New volunteers are carefully coached as they begin to receive calls. Helpline trainers supervise and support them during their first five scheduled telephone shifts. Typically, new volunteers take on one shift (two hours) of telephone helpline per week. As their confidence and expertise grow, they have the opportunity to take on additional shifts.
All volunteers, regardless of their years of experience, receive continued support from Suicide Action Montreal’s staff at all times. Our staff will guide volunteers through how to deal with an unexpected situation, answer questions, bring their expertise to bear on a particular experience and/or listen to expressed concerns or emotions. This constant collaboration between SAM employees and volunteers is one of the best guarantees of professional development. Volunteers are regularly invited to further their knowledge by attending ongoing training workshops given by experts in various fields.
On-going supervision, support, follow-up on interventions and the development of volunteers’ skills are a priority for the Suicide Action Montreal team.
Every May, to honour their work, SAM invites all volunteers to a gala during which five awards of excellence (Lise Morin Award and four Samitas) are presented to those who have distinguished themselves through their unwavering commitment to SAM.