Suicide Hotline Manager

Suicide Hotline Manager

Suicide Hotline Manager

CantSay, US

Female, 0

I supervise and train telephone operators for a suicide hotline. In addition to answering phones myself, I am also available when questions about protocol come up or if a phone operator is having trouble dealing with the emotions being expressed by a caller. Like many non-profits, we are now in danger of being shut down because of budget cuts.

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Last Answer on June 20, 2013

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What are the outcomes that your suicide hotline reps try to achieve, beyond preventing immediate harm? Are you just lending a supportive ear, or will you suggest that a caller take specific actions like seeking out professional help, or talking to friends/family?

Asked by Kyle almost 6 years ago

Different hotlines have different purposes. Some will directly connect a caller with a therapist or have someone go to their home. Other hotlines are strictly there for directive-free emotional support in the moment and will invite the caller to call back again whenever they feel the need to do so. You can do some research online before choosing which hotline to contact. It can be frustrating to be seeking a comforting ear and have someone instead giving you a referral, and vice versa.

Has anyone committed suicide during a call?

Asked by solo1 almost 6 years ago

As far as I know, this has never happened in the years I have been with the hotline. There are times when a caller hangs up and you feel like they are in serious danger, that nothing you have said has gotten through and that really they just wanted to hear one last voice. We have, however, then heard from many of those callers again, which is of course always reassuring. One of the toughest things is that when the call ends you don’t know what really happens.

Is the "copycat suicide" idea a real phenomenon? Does call volume increase significantly after a high-profile suicide occurs?

Asked by somebaggage almost 6 years ago

From what we have noticed at our hotline, volume does not increase, but people do talk about it. It seems that hearing about suicide does not suddenly get people thinking about suicide for the first time. It does give them a focus, though, for what they have been going through and it can be a great starting point for a seemingly impossible conversation to have. The same goes for natural disasters and other high profile tragedies. Callers don't for the first time realize that the world is a difficult and overwhelming place for them. It gives them a concrete place to begin an overwhelming train of thought.

If one of your phone reps is having a really bad day because of something going on in his/her life, would you tell them to take a day off or go home early so that their own emotions don't interfere with the job?

Asked by Mike almost 6 years ago

We try to foster open communication on the lines and behind the scenes. There is lot of chatting with operators when they come on shift and serious discussion if something distracting is going on in their lives. We respect our operators and would not tell someone they had to go home early if they felt capable of handling their emotions, but we are vigilant in ensuring our callers receive the best service and will check in regularly throughout the shift to make sure they are not taking on more than they can handle.

Are the majority of your callers teens and young adults?

Asked by RaySmith almost 6 years ago

The callers vary widely in age. On occasion we hear from pre-teens or teenagers, which is always notable. Most of our callers are adults, with probably the majority of them being elderly.

What's the most ridiculous reason a caller has given you for wanting to kill himself?

Asked by BernUnit almost 6 years ago

I can't go into any specifics because of confidentially. The people with the reasons that would sound the most ridiculous were the people who were the most severely ill. A small slight or disappointment can appear to a schizophrenic or person with a personality disorder as a really traumatic event. When you hear how upset someone is about something that you, as a stranger, can guess happened very differently or didn't happen at all, it's honestly just really sad that this person suffers from such intense delusions that cause him or her so much pain.

How many calls do you field per day?

Asked by Mike almost 6 years ago

It varies and not all calls last more than a few minutes, but typically about 200-300 calls per day.