As most know, I work in the mental health field and have spent the last two years taking calls, all day long, from people in crisis, many of whom are suicidal. Here are some things you need to know.
1. Every single caller I have spoken to thinks that everyone else is ok. I will say to them, “Listen, I’m sure your company loves and appreciates you. BUT, I’m expensive. Your company would not hire an entire staff of counselors like me if you were the only one who needed help.” Most give a little nervous laugh but still don’t believe me because when they look around they see everyone else doing great.” So, I’ll ask them, Who knows you are talking to me right now? No one. Right, and in the same way, you don’t know who else is calling either.”
2. There are sometimes delays with the National Suicide Hotline (988) or Crisis Text Line (741741). If you are giving out resources to someone you know that is struggling, give multiple options. An easy way to find resources is to search the topic they are dealing with or their demographics + crisis line. An example, for a new mom, you could search new parent crisis hotline.
3. Be nice to people calling you, yes, even unwanted calls. You really don’t know what the person is going through behind the scenes. I have been on calls with customer service employees who were in hysterics and would get a call and have to put me on hold. I would hear them take a breath and switch on their professional voice to get through the call. I would wait on the wailing that comes after suffocating oneself for the sake of security. That customer had no idea their actions or words could be what pushes that person to suicide.
4. Do NOT be afraid to ask hard questions. People want to talk. They are silently begging for someone to see them.