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The role of volunteer organizations in suicide prevention 

The role of volunteer organizations in suicide prevention
The role of volunteer organizations in suicide prevention

Karl Andriessen

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date: 27 January 2022

Contemporary suicide prevention emerged, to a large extent, as a result of groundwork conducted by volunteers. This chapter focuses on the involvement of volunteers in suicide prevention organizations throughout history and across the world, without forgetting the involvement of volunteers in suicide bereavement support. The characteristics of volunteers and volunteer organizations are presented. The question regarding the effectiveness of volunteer organizations is addressed, e.g. the available evidence regarding the positive effects of telephone crisis lines, online chat, and ‘befriending’ in rural areas are discussed. However, further research is needed given the shortage of studies. The chapter concludes with a plea for increased cooperation between volunteer and professional organizations, and integration of volunteer work in national suicide prevention policies in order to provide optimal care to the people in need.

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