Colombo Branch of Sumithrayo:
Holistic approach for suicide prevention
In the past the ethos of befriending practiced by Sumithrayo was to
focus on the emotional situation faced by the individual and thereby
ensuring the caring, understanding and support needed by that person to
overcome the situation.
During the out reach programs conducted by the Colombo South branch
of Sumithrayo (at Ethul Kotte) they came to realize the pressures faced
by school children who come from broken homes, others who have to
achieve examination results better than the best and still others facing
emotional problems and are burdened beyond their age. Keeping this in
mind Colombo South branch of Sumithrayo organized an all island essay
competition with the title "the importance of developing decision making
skills and coping skills amongst school children".
According to their experience having good decision making skills and
coping skills will help an individual to have greater self confidence to
face the day to day challenges, keeping them from being lured by
undesirable compulsions such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs,
premarital/extra marital sex etc. all of which can lead to emotional
With the auspicious of the Ministry of Education and the Social
Services Ministry the Colombo South branch of Sumithrayo is now making a
concerted endeavour to open up a new chapter in enhancing the lives of
the rural communities with a view to reducing suicides in Sri Lanka.
Colombo South branch of Sumithrayo has risen from very humble
beginnings and is now a leader in the field of befriending and Social
The vision and mission of the Colombo South branch of Sumithrayo is
to bring down the rate of suicides to a minimum number and if possible
right down to zero and make Sri Lanka a suicide free country. They
realize this is ambitious but the Director quoted the Chinese
Philosopher Lao-Pzu "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one
step" and to take it further quoted the American Politician Adlai
Stevenson who said "the journey of thousand leagues begin with a single
step, so we must never neglect any work within our reach however small".
In pursuance of their new vision they have carried out the following
projects so far for this year:
a.Train the trainers; the first batch of teachers, hospital staff and
police officers has completed their initial training program and further
training programs are in the pipeline. b.Consequent to 5,600 schools
from all over the island being intimated regarding the essay competition
many schools had responded enthusiastically. It had been open to
ordinary level and advanced level students and had been conducted in
Sinhalese. The principals of schools had been very supportive. The
Director (Sinhala) Rodrigue from the Education Ministry (Sri
Jayawardenapura zone) and a team of teachers appointed by him had helped
to mark the papers. The Council of Management and volunteers of the
Colombo South branch are extremely grateful for their unstinted support.
Sixteen computers were gifted by the Colombo South branch of Sumithrayo
to the winning students from both the junior and senior categories, from
the 8 provinces that participated, the funds being raised by the sale of
raffle tickets and donations. In this regard they are grateful to all
Two hundred and fifty Merit Certificates were awarded too.
With Prof. Carlo Fonseka as the Chief Guest this prize giving
ceremony was held on March 21, 2009. The keynote address delivered by
Prof. Fonseka on the topic 'the importance of developing decision making
skills and coping skills amongst school children' was extremely valuable
to both students and parents. He ended the speech playing a song
composed by him and sung by Pandith Amaradeva that gave much food for
thought to all those present at the ceremony. Six hundred and fifty were
present consisting of students, principals, teachers and families of the
winning students. As the majority were from distant areas they were
served breakfast as they arrived and lunch before leaving.
The highlights of the cultural segment were the dance items performed
by the students of Ananda Balika Vidyalaya, Kotte and Mahamaya Vidyalaya,
Nugegoda. The plea of Colombo South Sumithrayo is that they will have
more assistance and encouragement to make their dreams come true.