Friend of the suicidal, Chad Varah, dies

The founder of the Samaritans, the Rev Dr Chad Varah, has died at the age of 95.

Chad Varah
Chad Varah
Varah founded the charity 54 years ago to provide “active listening therapy” and to “befriend the suicidal and despairing”. He also founded Befrienders International (now called Befrienders Worldwide) in 1974, hoping to make suicide “unimportant as a cause of death” all over the world.

He established Samaritans in 1953 after being given the London parish of St Stephen Walbrook, which had a small congregation and thus left him considerable free time to carry out counselling work. He was so inundated with requests for help that he enlisted some of his congregation to help, establishing a free-standing voluntary organisation in 1954.

He then took a back seat as the organisation grew into its current form, encompassing 202 branches across the British Isles, but continued his association with it for the rest of his life.

Dominic Rudd, chief executive of Samaritans, described Varah as “an extraordinary man”. He said: “His legacy is a strengthened Samaritans that seeks to make emotional health part of everyday conversation. We have some way to go before we achieve that – in the meantime, Samaritans believes that offering people the opportunity to be listened to in confidence, and accepted without prejudice, can alleviate despair and suicidal feelings.”

Varah also championed sex education and was patron of sexual health charity the Terence Higgins Trust between 1987 and 1999.

Between 1950 and 1961 he worked as a scriptwriter for children’s comics Girl and Eagle, working on such characters as ‘pilot of the future’ Dan Dare.

Steve Evans, chair of Samaritans, said: “It is our honour and determination to carry on his extraordinary work in the way he would have liked.”

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus