The Good Samaritan Model of Crisis Intervention

Many people turn to and rely on the Bible as a source of wisdom and comfort, but for a crisis intervention model?

Who was the Good Samaritan?

When Jesus taught the people who came to learn from Him or be healed by Him, He often used parables, realistic stories that illustrate a deeper point.

Most of us have heard of the Good Samaritan. He’s the star of the New Testament’s most well-known parable. Jesus made an interesting choice to prove an important point. Samaritans were despised by Jesus’ audience. “Good” and “Samaritan” were not terms they would have put together.

Jesus told the Good Samaritan’s story to answer a question posed after He told the people how important it is to love your neighbor:

Who is my neighbor?

By answering that question with an account of a helpless man, two pious religious leaders, and a social outcast, Jesus wanted His followers to understand that God loves everyone, and we should, too. He expects His followers to care for anyone in need.

Although his was not a mental health crisis, a person cannot get much more in need of life-saving intervention than the man who lay bleeding on the ground by the road.

Three people had the opportunity to help.

What Can We Learn about Crisis Intervention from the Good Samaritan?

In a seminar titled Equipping the Christian Community to Address Suicide: An Integrative Approach, presenter Scott Forbes LMSW, shared something he noticed as he read the account of how the Samaritan cared for the man who had been robbed and beaten by bandits, and abandoned by his own people.

Mr. Forbes is a Christian who directs, and at that time had 22-years’ experience with, a county-wide crisis intervention program. Unlike a suicide hotline with trained individuals talking to people in crisis by phone or online, they have a crisis team that goes out to people in crisis in their county.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Mr. Forbes sees a perfect model for crisis intervention, and how we should care for those who are suffering.

Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him…

The Samaritan RECOGNIZED.

…he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him…


On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him…


…and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

He RETURNED, and, if necessary, he would have REPEATED

Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Luke 10:30-37, NASB


The Good Samaritan Crisis Intervention Model

How does the Samaritan’s care of his neighbor look in a modern mental health crisis?

Recognize. Pay attention when people withdraw from usual activities and loved ones, or their behavior changes in other ways. Listen when people express feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.

Respond. If you suspect someone is in danger of attempting suicide, ask the question. Let them tell their story. Listen.

Refer. People suffering in depression, especially if they express suicidal ideation, can need help beyond what you are capable to give. Accept your limitations and get the person help, regardless of how they feel about it at the time. If someone is in danger of self-harm, they need to go to the hospital.

Return. Ask if you can check up on the person after they have received the next level of care. Follow through on follow-up.

Repeat. Remember that the person may still be in crisis. Question and respond accordingly.



This post originally appeared on Melinda’s blog, Fruit of Brokenness.


Melinda-VanRy Melinda VanRy writes about mental illness and faith on her Fruit of Brokenness blog. She wants everyone to know they have inestimable worth, though she often fails to believe it for herself. Bouts of severe depression have nearly destroyed her but instead make her stronger and give her a desire to help others who struggle with mental illness and faith as she does. Melinda lives in New York with her husband, their three kids, and more cats than she ever wanted. If you’re thinking big city, don’t. The VanRy family makes their home in rural Central New York. Way closer to Canada than New York City. And not far from Lake Ontario, which she loves.

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