Volunteers Learn How to ‘Listen with Heart’ and Help People in Need This Holiday Season


Athena Duenas speaks to future volunteers about how to talk to someone who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may need help to deal with substance abuse issues. 

Guam – Here on Guam, where there is at least one suicide death every two weeks, The annual Holiday Helpline trains volunteers to lend an ear and help people who are contemplating suicide all in an effort to lower that number.



Whether it was training on how to talk to someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol or how to talk to someone contemplating suicide, the holiday helpline volunteers are trained to deal with a variety of situations this upcoming holiday season. Part of the holiday helpline volunteers job is knowing where to refer potential callers so that they can talk to the right person to give them the best possible help. According to Guam Behavioral, On Guam,1 in 4 suicides involves alcohol, while 7-percent involve other drugs. Athena Duenas, Substance Abuse Counselor with Guam Behavioral Health, teaches volunteers where to refer potential callers who might need help with substance abuse.


“I just did the presentation to talk about addiction and give them some information about addiction so that they can use it for there calls so they have some knowledge about it. But I also give them some knowledge, information about the programs we do down at our office so that they are aware of the agency and what we provide and what the outside agencies provide in terms of substance abuse,” said Duenas


The volunteers were also trained in suicide prevention. One of the main objectives for the helpline is to provide potential callers who may be contemplating suicide with information and support.


“They talk about life situations they’re experiencing, maybe loss of a loved one or if there are experiencing divorce or domestic issues, relationship issues that our callers will be able to identify that and to help them and promote health-seeking behaviors,” said Michelle Sasamoto. 

Jean Quitigua, a longtime volunteer explains how volunteering for the holiday helpline helps those in need.

“Just knowing that, the few word that I share with these individuals is going to make a difference this season, this holiday, who would have otherwise done something or planning to do harm or who just needs a listening heart,” said Quitigua. 


For any updates be sure to check peaceguam.org or the Facebook page ‘focus on life Guam.’