Some think Befrienders is a phone dating service

JOHOR BARU - Those looking for partners in the belief that the Befrienders is a telephone dating service make up some of the less pressing cases that the body gets at its hotline here.

While callers may be disappointed to learn that such a service is not on the "menu", that does not stop the organisation from digging a little deeper.

"If they are calling for a dating service, it is obvious they might be feeling lonely and are looking for someone to talk to," said Befrienders Johor Baru chapter trainer Sam Tee.

"They would start off by expressing their interest in making friends but as trained personnel, we will clarify to the callers that providing companionship is not part of our service," she said.

Tee said that after explaining to the callers about the Befrienders' role, they would try to find out the caller's problems.

She said it was their policy to maintain confidentiality and anonymity and personnel were not allowed to meet the callers in person outside.

The most common problem the organisation has had to deal with in the first eight months of this year, however, is related to sexuality.

Befrienders operations head R. Mohgan Dass said most callers in this category tend to talk about homosexuality and the obstacles that they faced and were looking to find acceptance in society.

Relationships and family ties came in second and employment and marital affairs were next.

Most callers were aged between 41 and 50 years old.

"Out of the total of callers this year, some 20 per cent were those who were suicidal or had suicidal thoughts," he said.

The centre, which operates from 4pm to 12am daily, is open to those who need someone to listen to their problems or talk to.

Befrienders Johor Baru chapter can be reached at 07-331 2300. Those with problems can call the BefrienĀ­ders at 04-281 5161 or 04-281 1108 (Penang), 05-547 7933 or 05-547 7955 (Ipoh) and 03-7956 8144 or 03-7956 8145 (Klang Valley).