Tag: #18002738255

Calling a Suicide Hotline

Calling a Suicide Hotline

Many  of us with mental illness have time in our lives when we feel utterly alone, confused and in the dark depths of our illness. We want to cry our for help, but at the same time we don’t want anyone to know how bad we are really feeling.

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Have you been there?  I know I have many times.

If you have never called a crisis line, I want to share with you what it’s like – from our side and from the side of the person or agency you are talking with.

I have had several times in my life that I have called the Crisis Hotline. For me, I called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK). There are many crisis lines in this country that are for set up for a variety of topics. At the time of my first call, I didn’t know who to call so the Lifeline was my choice. I remember it was very late at night, my kids were at their father’s house and I was alone in my despair. I was terrified to call because I thought that they would immediately send someone to my house and take me away. I finally felt brave enough (or desperate enough) to make the call. I was on hold for what was only 10 or 15 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. A calm woman’s voice came on the line and just started “talking me down.”  I know I was very wound up and talking 100 miles per hour, but I held on to her voice. I don’t recall what all we talked about. I do know that I took my phone outside as we continued our conversation (a very useful tool when you are in such distress is to go outside, feel that fresh air, if only for a moment). We talked for maybe a half an hour and she and I together made a plan for me to go to sleep and contact my therapist the next day. The woman on the other end of phone truly was my lifeline and guide that night and I was so grateful.

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Of the handful of times that I called in over the years, they were all very positive experiences except for one. On one occasion the woman I was talking to did not jive with what I needed. I remember getting angry with her. I don’t know what it was; was she judging me? Most likely I was judging myself and I projected those feelings on to her. I still feel bad about it all these years laters, but I know that the responders are trained to handle many different situations.

And speaking of that I want to share with you what happens on the responders side when a call comes in. About 4 years ago I decided I wanted to try and volunteer at the call center in my area. I wanted to make a difference and help others like I had been helped. What an absolutely amazing experience. I had over 80 hours of training before I took my first call. I would work a 4 hour shift along with a few others. Our call room was small, about 6 lines, and the center is considered a hub for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (there are several hub cities throughout the country where calls are cycled to). Those first calls I took were a bit scary, but once I got going, I really thought I excelled at working call line, interacting with people in distress and bringing them to a better mental place. I had calls from people who were actively suicidal, to women who were in situations of abuse, to those in crisis of depression, panic or similar. And then you get the oddball calls like someone trying to do their homework and needing information and those who have oversexual tendencies and want to “talk” to the responder.  Very interesting to say the least. I would have like to have volunteered longer, but for me, the drive was an hour each way and with 4 kids and a full time job, I just couldn’t make it work. I hope someday I am able to volunteer again

So what happens when you call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)?  First off there is a short recording that encourages veterans to “push 2” so they can be connected with specially trained veteran responders. Otherwise, you are on a brief hold and your call is going to get cycled to wherever in the country there is the first open line. So most likely, whomever you are talking to will not live anywhere close to you. I had calls from all over the country. The responder has a computer that they are inputting any data they may collect from you (name, sex, diagnoses, immediate issues, etc). This is done partly for data collection reasons (which that data helps in grant applications later as these lines are non-profit), but it is also helpful if a person calls again someday, the responder can bring up some useful information.

The responder has been trained for all types of situations. If a caller is actively suicidal there is an exact protocol that gets followed. If there is some type of active abuse or crime happening, the responder is able to be in contact with local authorities.  Most of the time the responder is there to listen, to offer support, to guide the caller into determining how best they can provide self care, reach out for support, search for resources. If the responder and caller can talk about resources in the callers area, it is very helpful.  The responders use 211.org to locate local resources.

Again, the responder is there to listen – to YOU! It is not a thing to fear and you only tell the responder whatever you want to tell them.  They are not going to force name, address, phone number or anything of the sort from you. This call is your SAFETY NET. And you don’t have to feel actively suicidal to call.  Some states and cities have a general crisis number you can call.

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I urge anyone who is feeling any type of mental distress to call. I know it may be scary at first, but you will find that the person on the other end of the line wants to help you, wants to offer comfort, guidance and resources. I am so grateful that these crisis lines exist. And for all of the volunteers out there that work on the lines, I thank you.

Take Care

Jenny

 

 

Photo Credits:

unsplash-logoJames Sutton

unsplash-logoAaron Mello

unsplash-logoMatthew Brodeur

unsplash-logoJessica Castro

Amazon Affiliate Ad:

Help! we all need somebody…

Help! we all need somebody…

Help, we all need somebody, not just anybody…..do these words sounds familiar?  If you were alive in the 1960’s and 1970’s you might easily remember songs by the Beatles. What an awesome group they were and to this day their music revolves around the world for so many to enjoy. If you haven’t heard of the Beatles, find some youTube videos and hear what you have been missing.

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Why, the Beatles? I don’t know except this song came into my mind and as I listened to the lyrics, I mean REALLY listened, I realized how  the words remind me how important it is for those of us living with mental illness to have our “Help” list. Whether we have it written down on a piece of paper or on our phone, or mentally remember it, it is so important to know who we can contact if we are going through rough times. If you haven’t listened to “Help” in a while, here are the lyrics and the youTube link is below:

(Help!) I need somebody
(Help!) Not just anybody
(Help!) You know I need someone
(Help!)

When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round

Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

 When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way

But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?
Help me? Help me? Ooh

lyrics provided by www.genius.com

Don’t these words ring so very true to you? I know they do for me. How often have I needed help when I am feeling down? Goodness, I cannot even begin to count the times. And how about when my feeling of self-worth is so low that I cannot think straight? I recognize that older I get, the more help I may need; the more my bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder diagnoses started to manifest themselves, the more I needed help finding the way to get me through a dark time. And ohhhh how I appreciate all the assistance I have been given over the years.

Do I have a list written down for me at this moment in my life? No, I don’t but I know who to call. I know that family, my therapist and a few friends know how hard I have worked to get to where I am today. I know if I need to I can pickup the phone, or write and email.

I strongly urge all of us to keep a “Help” list at all times. Keeping the list as a note in our phone will help reminding us WHO we can call rather than scrolling through a big list of contacts. Having the list written down by our bed is also a good reminder that there are people to reach out to even in the lastest hours when we thing we are all alone.

And PLEASE keep the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number close at hand 1-800-273-8255. Remember, you do not necessarily need to feel suicidal to call this number. It can be a great number to call if you are feeling lost, alone, or in the dark of night. Trust me, I have used this number many times over the years and have received a lot of comfort. AND, if you ever have a friend that you want to share the number with, you have it handy.

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I hope you enjoy the video below. The Beatles are definitely a group that made such a huge impact on music.  Their overnight popularity was beyond reason. And little did I know that their music would reflect on life for me today…in this moment.

Share your list ideas your best way of keeping your “go-to” folks’ phone numbers readily available to you.

Take Care

Jenny