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 7 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.

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

Asked by BernUnit almost 7 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.

If a caller says he's literally about to commit suicide, do you contact the authorities to try and trace the call and determine the location?

Asked by Riggs almost 7 years ago

Different hotlines have different policies. There are some that will trace the caller and intercede even if the caller doesn't want that. Other hotlines are completely anonymous and will only send help if specifically requested by the caller. This information is available on the hotlines' websites. One thing to consider is that if you call an anonymous hotline but then provide information on your intentions and locations, there is a legal obligation to report it to the police.

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

Asked by somebaggage almost 7 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.

Has anyone committed suicide during a call?

Asked by solo1 almost 7 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.

How many calls do you field per day?

Asked by Mike almost 7 years ago

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

Are the majority of your callers teens and young adults?

Asked by RaySmith almost 7 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.