In 1962, San Francisco Suicide Prevention opened its services in a Tenderloin hotel with six volunteers, all personally trained by Bernard Mayes, the agency’s founder. To publicize services, they distributed matchbooks in the bars of the Tenderloin. Thirty calls were received during the first month alone. Now the agency receives nearly 200 calls a day, saving lives phone call by phone call.
Funding from the City and County of San Francisco began in 1972. By 1976, the Drug & Alcohol Line had opened with City funding. In 1988, the agency opened its Youth Line that has since led to in person school and youth outreach, followed by the AIDS/HIV Nightline in 1989. We have since built over 7 core lines responding to various needs and services, Community and Youth Outreach, Peer Workforce Supportive Services, and Grief Support.
The current executive director and office manager joined the agency during the period of 1988-89. By 1992, the agency’s offices were relocated from the Geary corridor to the financial district in order to make the agency accessible to a more diverse pool of volunteers, where we remain to this day.
San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s programs have been widely featured in the international, national, and local media, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the London Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.