The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was launched on January 1, 2005 and answered just over 46,000 calls in the first year of the operation. In 2017, it answered more than 2 million.
The Lifeline has significantly increased the call volume, but there are still people in crisis who can not reach it. Some people with suicidal thoughts are afraid to call, afraid that they do so, can compromise their privacy or their autonomy.
USA TODAY spoke with the Lifeline director John Draper and communications director Frances Gonzalez about what happens when someone calls 800-273-TALK (8255).
Who is calling the lifeline?
Gonzalez: "Twenty-five to thirty percent of the callers have a problem with suicide, others call this because they are emotionally in trouble or are looking for sources and information."
What kind of personal information will I expect to give?
Gonzalez: "Calls are confidential, people can be anonymous if they choose – they can share as much or as little personal information as they want during the interview."
Who will collect it?
Draper: "People who have been trained to deal with this conversation do not panic, they are ready to listen and assess the nature and seriousness of the problem and de-escalate."
What will the conversation look like?
Draper: "Our employees throughout the country are trained to listen to the reasons for dying, but also to the reasons for living." If someone says they are suicidal, we want to know how suicidal we are. do they just think about it? Do they really want to do it? We know that at the most basic level people want their pain to go away, they do not want their lives to disappear, and we're willing to listen to those things that cause pain, so they no longer go on alone, and if they do not go through it alone, they can work with us, we ask you, what are some of the things that you have kept alive – so far? We start by drawing up a safety plan by learn who is important to them and who they can call and talk to in their lives to keep them safe, what we do is build a bridge of support of that crisis moment after life. "
Will the Lifeline be followed up?
Gonzalez: "The Lifeline consists of a network of crisis centers throughout the country, not every crisis center can offer follow-up services, but some do not, follow-up is optional and offered to a caller."
When I call the Lifeline, is it possible that someone is being sent to my house?
Draper: "It is rare that we should ever do something that a person does not want us to do.of those people … at the highest risk, about 75 percent of the time, we are actively able to work with them and to help their own risk.We would only do active salvation in those rare circumstances where people call us, say they will kill themselves and will not cooperate with us in any way.Â They are unwilling or unable to save themselves or to cooperate with us to keep them safe and yet they call us and we believe that based on what they say if we do nothing they will die. "
Why should I call the Lifeline?
Draper: "Research has shown that by the end of the call the majority of callers feel less emotional and less suicidal."
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) at any time of the day or night or chat online.
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