WASHINGTON – Suicide rates drop over the holidays, but suicide prevention groups say they still take every call for help seriously.
A counselor with Grassroots Crisis Intervention, who did not want to be named, said her job is “mainly talking with them and trying to get an idea of where they’re at — mainly to provide support.”
Nancy Kline, a senior counselor for Grassroots Crisis Intervention, said different types of people call a hotline for help.
Some are chronically suicidal and go through cycles of good and bad times and others are calling for the first time. Third- party callers also phone the 24-hour hotline to get help for a friend, she said.
The first thing counselors do when a third-party calls is to talk about the differences between someone who is thinking about suicide but would never go through with it, and “someone who’s saying, `I’ve got a gun and it’s right next to me,'” Kline said.
In a serious case, Kline said counselors urge the third- party caller to take his or her friend to the hospital or notify the police.
Counselors run through much the same routine with a person contemplating suicide.
First, they talk to the caller about how he is feeling and what kinds of things are going on in his life. Then, the counselors try to assess whether the person is about to kill himself or is just thinking about it.
If the caller is just thinking about it, but does not seem serious, counselors will continue talking with him. They may ask the person to call the hotline first if he actually reaches the point where he thinks he is going to kill himself.
If the caller is about to kill himself or if he says he could not call the hotline before taking his life, counselors will notify police.
For more information, or to contact a suicide hotline, call:
* Grassroots Crisis Intervention, 410-531-6677.
* Baltimore Crisis Response, 410-752-2272.
* Suicide Prevention Hotline, 301-738-2255.
The National Institute of Mental Health says the best way to prevent suicide is through treatment of mental and substance abuse disorders and recognition and treatment of depression.