In Sri Lanka, on an average, 12 persons die by suicide every single day of the year.  And for each person who dies by suicide, at least 10 others fail in their attempt to end their life. Worldwide, suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15 to 44 years. [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Don’t feel alone, there’s someone you can reach out to

Join ‘Sumithrayo’ on September 10, by lighting a candle in support of World Suicide Prevention Day

In Sri Lanka, on an average, 12 persons die by suicide every single day of the year.  And for each person who dies by suicide, at least 10 others fail in their attempt to end their life. Worldwide, suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15 to 44 years.

Suicide is a complex problem for which there is no single cause or single reason. It results from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, social, cultural and environmental factors. Suicide has no racial or class distinctions. However, suicides can be prevented and suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

A person who is suicidal feels isolated and alone with his or her problem, which seems beyond their capacity to cope with. People contemplate suicide when their pain exceeds their resources for coping with it. At times like these, talking about their stressful situation with a non-judgmental, accepting, understanding and caring person can throw a different light on the situation and help diffuse the suicidal impulse.

Often, indicators of impending suicide go undetected, or are not addressed as they should be. If you or one of your friends, acquaintances or family members exhibit the warning signs, it is crucial that they be dealt with. The number of people who say that they have been pulled back from the brink of suicide by speaking with Sri Lanka Sumithrayo (SLS) is a stark revelation of the extent of emotional distress in our society.

People faced with an emotional crisis mostly require informal and confidential emotional support. SLS volunteers/befrienders help callers by giving them a patient and caring hearing, and letting them unburden themselves by talking about their predicament.
Volunteers are friends who have the time to listen, are non-religious, do not advise, criticise or counsel, but help the person to come to terms with the situation in which they find themselves and build up the confidence to cope with it. Help is available in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.

Very often a caller may have become suicidal simply because he/she has nobody trustworthy to confide in, being unwilling to share the problem with friends or relations fearing a lack of understanding, or worse, embarrassment and humiliation. The anonymity and confidentiality that is assured at SLS offer the distressed a discreet source of relief.

In addition to Befriending Services, SLS also conducts awareness programmes for those in need of Suicide Awareness and Prevention, including programmes on developing skills to deal with the everyday stresses of life.

The risk of suicide is greater when…
There is a recent loss or breakup of a close relationship.
Unhappy changes in health occur, or are anticipated (for example, a painful, disabling or fatal illness).
Alcohol or drug abuse takes place.
Mental illness occurs.
There is a history of suicide in the family.
There have been previous attempts made to end one’s life.
People often communicate suicidal feelings by…
Being withdrawn and unable to relate to others.
Having and/or expressing definite ideas on how to commit suicide.
Talking about feeling isolated and lonely.
Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness, lack of hope or lack of self-esteem.
Constantly dwelling on problems for which there seem to be no solutions.

Remember your loved ones

Sri Lanka Sumithrayo invites survivors and all those who have lost a loved one to suicide to join them on “World Suicide Prevention Day”,  September 10, at 8 p.m. at 60 B Horton Place, Colombo 7, to light a candle.

Playing a vital role for over 40 years

Sri Lanka Sumithrayo (SLS), has over the past four decades, played a vital role in befriending several thousands of Sri Lankans experiencing problems in their lives. SLS has, thus far, been a source of relief to those facing issues, such as marital disharmony, unmanageable debt, problems at the workplace or school, peer pressure, and other issues that compromise their emotional wellbeing.
The vision of SLS is to strive for a society in which:

Fewer people die by suicide
People are able to explore their feelings without fear or prejudice
People are able to acknowledge and respect the feelings of others.

Founded in 1974 by Mrs Joan de Mel, widow of the late Bishop Lakdasa de Mel, SLS was modelled on the Samaritans, the telephone hotline open for suicidal people in the UK. SLS uses the premises at Horton Place, gifted for this purpose by the de Mel family.

While SLS has been an organisation that has befriended the distressed and desperate in the past, it is becoming increasingly relevant in modern society, as indicated by the numbers of callers. The hectic pace of life in contemporary Sri Lanka, experienced particularly by ambitious young people, is leading to increasing numbers of social casualties. In young families where both parents must work to make ends meet, a whole catalogue of social issues is emerging; easy access to cable television and the Internet may tempt some to imitate the lifestyles of western societies without the means to do so; or when one parent has taken employment abroad, the challenges faced by the parent remaining at home are many and complex. These are some of the issues callers at SLS describe.

Often, the problem has gone unaddressed for months or years. Callers at SLS are therefore usually people ‘at the end of their tether’, and who, in their search for relief have somehow heard of Sumithrayo and turned to them as a last resort. Approximately 150 distressed persons contact Sumithrayo each week. They either visit, write, telephone or e-mail, and find comfort in talking about their worries, fears and anxieties

Sumithrayo is open and is available to provide emotional support on all 365 days of the year, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. All information is strictly confidential.
Sumithrayo can be contacted on:
Telephone: 011-2692909 / 011-2683555 / 011-2696666
E-mail: / /
Address : No. 60/B Horton Place, Colombo 7.

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