Skip directly to content

Chances Are, Your Best Day at the Office is Absolutely Nothing Like Hers

Follow

A caring suicide hotline counselor may have just saved a life.  Thousands of calls like this are made every day.

 

This scene in the Australian documentary Suicide and Me puts us in close contact with someone working at a suicide hotline.  We marvel at her calm, kind, and supportive words, while observing her concerned expression- she hopes she's had success, but only time will tell.

 

 

“It’s a very strange situation to be on the other side of the phone when someone is in such turmoil," said Beth Olson, a counselor for the New York call center of the National Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.  "It’s not hectic, it’s calm. It’s almost like a dance; you have to keep up with them and make sure you make the right decisions."

 

In the United States, an estimated 8.4 million adults have suicidal thoughts and 1.1 million attempt suicide every year.  Studies have proven that crisis hotlines, like the one shown in the clip above, are effective in reducing the stress of suicidal people, lowering the odds that they will act on suicidal thoughts. 

 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 150 crisis centers receive at least 2,200 such calls a day.  The counselors answering the calls are able to provide emotional support, as well as connect people to essential services such as food stamps, shelters and substance abuse treatment.   The recent economic downturn has increased demand for such services, while federal funding for mental health has declined.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which funds and supports the National Lifeline and funds State, Territorial, and Tribal programs to prevent suicide among youth, saw cuts of $168 million in 2013 due to sequestration.