Post # 1
(TW: drug abuse, alcohol abuse)
I was recently part of a conversation about the recent high profile suicides which led into a conversation about the suicide hotline and what a helpful resource it was but then as people who have called started sharing stories about calling most of them seemed to be more negative than positive. I work in behavioral health so it is not uncommon for these conversations to come up and for people to be open and honest about their own experiences. I can share two stories, mine and FHs with his permission.
I was in a dark dark place about a year and eight months into our relationship after finding out my ex had died of an overdose leaving behind his girlfriend and daughter. I knew he took pills and did coke while we were dating and was a big part of why I couldn’t stay. He reached out to me two months before he died wanting to “hang out” and I blew him off because it felt shady as fuck that he’d text me when his baby was 3 weeks old. When I found out what happened I felt responsible like his text wasn’t shady at all and might have actually been a cry for help since he knew I knew where he could do that. I felt like I was just so caught up in my own relationship and being in love that I was too selfish to save him and now his daughter will grow up without a father because of it. I’ve since come to terms with the situation and even though theres a pain in my chest as I type this I know it wasn’t my fault that he died. I called the hotline because it felt wrong to ask my boyfriend to help me deal with this grief and I was having the urge to self harm. I called and I poured my heart out for about 25 minutes with nothing but “mmhm” “yes” “go on” to the point where I questioned if they were even listening. They ask for a number in case you get disconnected and while I was still hyperventalating in tears and in a very frustrated voice I told them “you know what, I’m fine, I don’t need this, bye.” and they never called back. THANKFULLY, he noticed I was out of bed and found me in the bathroom crying and we talked it out and took a shower together while he just held me and I cried. This is the amazing man I’m going to marry <3
When FH called it was because he had decided to quit drinking after a long and complex relationship with alcohol and was having some really bad thoughts about his self worth and had been having trouble finding motivation to get up in the mornings. He reached a breaking point one morning and called and told them all the horrible shit he felt inside. The person he spoke to was really nice and validating until the end of the phone call when he asked if they could pray together. FH said he would rather not as an athiest he didn’t find praying helpful at all. After a long pause the guy on the phone told him that his lack of faith was probably why he was feeling this way about himself and that if he went to church he would find meaning. WHAT!? Who trains these people?? I’m hoping this is one overly commited christian that let his faith get the best of him at work because if this is what they’re trained to tell people that it seriosuly messed up. FH went to alcohol counseling for a while and he’s come a really long way since then.
I’m not saying all experiences are negative and I’m interested to hear others’ stories. Even in the group where we were having this conversation there were some that found calling the suicide hotline helpful but I personally don’t see myself using is as a resource again. I know they’re not supposed to be substittues for therapists but IMO they could at least talk you down so you can make plans to go see someone.
Post # 2
I have found an app to be more helpful honestly – it checks in with me every day and asks me how I am and based on that offers practical advice. There were some calls to Samaritans that made me feel worse
Post # 3
lauralaura123 : what app is it? Does it cost money or require insurance to speak to someone?
Post # 4
peekaboobs : Serenity Chat through Facebook, it doesn’t cost anything but it’s just a bot
Post # 5
My friend works for the Samaritans and they’re not allowed to offer advice. They’re not allowed to try to talk you out of it either. They can ask questions like “how did that make you feel?” etc but the “mhm” is part of their training: “verbal cuddles”. Sometimes people call to say “I’ve done XYZ to take my own life but I don’t want to be alone. Will you stay on the line until I’m no longer here” and they can’t say “you should call an ambulance” or anything. As for the church, that’s not ok. Not in the UK at least.
Post # 6
ladyartichoke : they told me they would have to hang up if I was actively trying to hurt myself,that wasn’t very helpful (although I was just upset and not at that point)
Post # 7
peekaboobs : In order to volunteer as a crisis counselor for lifeline here in Australia you have to undertake accreditation and there is further accreditation for suicide prevention and domestic violence. A high number of volunteers are students studying psychology/behavioural sciences.
The other main helpline, beyondblue, does not take volunteers for telephone counselling and only employs people with relevant qualifications. We also have kidshelpline which is run in the same way. It is highly regulated here.
We also have advisory lines which people often confuse as places they can go to for counseling services. They basically are just there to point you in the direction of services.
Post # 8
peekaboobs : That whole praying thing really pisses me off. What an idiot. I understand that that might help someone who actually is religious, but when he said he didn’t want to pray it should have ended there, not with some high and mighty faith bullshit.
My husband called the veteran suicide hotline once for a friend. His friend, who lives in another state, texted him a big paragraph at like 4 in the morning sounding like he had taken something or was going to hurt himself, then wouldn’t answer the phone. Darling Husband was freaking out and didn’t know what to do. He called the hotline, thinking they could reach out to him or arrange a wellness check (DH didn’t know his address, but he was receiving VA care at the time). They do advertise as being for concerned loved ones as well. The guy on the phone wasn’t helpful at all. He seemed more interested in asking Darling Husband if he was ok, asking if he was suicidal, and giving him information on resources for himself. He finally just got pissed at the guy for wasting his time when his friend could have been dying. Luckily, his friend was ok and hadn’t actually done anything, he was drunk and passed out after sending the concerning message.
Post # 9
They were ok. The woman I spoke to wasn’t really professional at all. But in the end…i didn’t kill myself
Post # 10
My very first job in the mental health field was on a crisis hotline, which included suicide intervention. We had excellent training. This was many years ago, long before technology was as advanced as it is today. So a big part of our focus was to keep the person on the line long enough for a coworker to contact the police who could order a line trace. That was done via the oh-so-sophisticated mechanism of slipping a note to the person next to you.
The thing we had to keep foremost in our minds is that, although we all must always take any talk of suicide seriously, a person calling a suicide line really does not want to die. They are not seeing another way out of their agony at that moment, but on some level, they want to live. They just want the pain to stop.
Post # 11
sassy411 : I was going to say about the state people are in when they call and whether it being named the Suicide Hotline is the best name? I assume the vast majority of people don’t call when they have decided how they want to die and are about to go through with their attempt.
I’m in the UK so a bit different. Having been depressed (not suicidal) due to chronic insomnia many years ago I was given the number of a regional crisis line to call. I wanted to just ‘not be here’ I didn’t want to kill myself but I was desperate for help and all the NHS would offer was six group therapy sessions with a 3 month waiting list. Zolpidem/ Ambien was awful for me and obviously not a long term solution anyway. After 3 consecutive nights of no sleep and starting to worry about losing my job I rang the crisis line and spoke to a nurse. She said “goodness, when I get home I put my feet up and put the TV on and don’t get past five minutes before I’m asleep. I love my sleep! You definitelty need to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.” I reiterated that I COULDN’T SLEEP and she said “oh you will if you are sleepy. There’s nothing else I can say but I’m required to tell you that if you need immediate help then go to accident and emergency at nearest hospital.” I remember the conversation clearly many years on.
Luckily things improved over time. I still have insomnia but no way near as bad. I paid to see a therapist privately. I don’t have experience with the Samaritans here. I know they can only call an ambulance or police if you have given them your address but I guess most people won’t do that. It’s great that people take on these jobs though. An acquaintance has volunteered for the Samaritans for many years and she finds it extrememely draining but she doesn’t want to stop. Most of the time it’s people wanting to talk to someone and people who should really have access to better MH services that are hugely underfunded by the NHS.
Post # 12
Geeze. It’s really disheartening to hear how many terrible experience people have had with crisis intervention services. Our facility was actually full service, we did in person counseling, legal services via our volunteer attorney panel, and phone counseling. We asked for donations and our long term counseling clients were charged on a sliding scale, which could be as low as $2 a session. Some of our crisis intervention was with people who just walked in the door, but the bulk of it was by phone.
All of us were thoroughly trained in suicide intervention and had backgrounds in psychology. Our supervisors all had at least masters degrees.
It was a very good facility, I really loved my time there and learned so much.
Post # 13
I am in South Africa. I was in a very bad place in 2011, and I called the suicide hotline for help. The lady on the line was so impatient and sounded fed-up with me talking. Of course I did not end up doing something to myself, even though there were when I did consider it – As a Med student at the time, I had access to meds, to scalpels, to tall buildings….I just had to pick one method. And I had hoped to just have someone to talk to, to listen to me, someone anonymous so that I would not feel judged. (At the time I was in counselling as well, but that woman was not helpful – her suggestion for when I was feeling overwhelmed with stress: to breathe and imagine I am in a garden breathing the smells of the flowers when there was a garden right there where she could have suggested I take a walk and look at and smell real flowers. My brain just simply could not get her)
Fast forward to 2013 or so. I was at a different university, and something from the past came back to haunt me. So I went to the student support place. That place was not helpful either – the waiting list was really long, and since I was not deemed to be a threat to myself, I was brushed off and would have had to wait for weeks for help. I never went back.
2018: I am working, and there has been drama left, right and centre. I am not coping, but after having been burnt so many times by people who were supposed to help me(The above two incidents were the major ones, there were other ones that occurred that involved people who were supposed to help me) I do not know what to do. I do not want to call that hotline again – I don’t want to be brushed off again. My classroom is on the top floor of the building, and just the other day, I was sitting in the classroom, and I had this urge to jump out the window, or to just go over the balcony, then I won’t need to be at that school anymore, and face all the drama there. I have a counsellor’s phone number, but I keep chickening out of calling her to make an appointment. I just cannot face being brushed off again.
peekaboobs : Sorry for threadjacking! I went off topic – the words just came out….