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Suicide Hotlines Help People In Trouble

by Cate Tauriello

This holiday season, it’s easy to feel a little down because something missing. But it’s simple enough to just say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” when you need someone to talk to.

Diana Sung, English teacher at WHS has worked the Suicide Hotline in Maryland since 2007, on and off as a volunteer. She recently stopped due to medical reasons. She says, “It was a very immediate sense of helping people in a crisis. I actually enjoyed speaking to a lot of the people who called in on the phone.”  Many people who call in often don’t have anyone to talk to or they just need a non-judgemental outside perspective.

Sung mentioned that her coworkers were very compassionate, “They were really always very wonderful people to work with,” Understandable considering they are the people who answer the phones if you call in.

“[The length of a phone conversation] depends completely on the type of call it was. For suicide crisis calls in particular tended to last between 15 minutes and an hour. I think my longest call was around three hours. We also did a lot of referral type calls, meaning people would call in and not really want to talk counseling, but just want to know about resources that were available to them, so those calls were much shorter.” Sung said.

No matter the type of call, every call is important and unique. Whether you’re calling in because you know you need help or if you just need someone to talk to, the hotline is perfect for any type of call.

“The most challenging calls were not the people who were truly in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, it was actually really easy to talk to them. The hardest calls were chronically, severely mentally ill persons. They had pushed people out of their lives, and so they used the hotline to try and be friendly with them.” Sung also mentioned that she, as well as her coworkers, did not appreciate prank calls.

Contrary to some myths that the phone lines are busier during the holidays, Sung says “It was actually significantly less busy because people are busy being with their families on those days.” Building up to the holiday and the day after holidays are a little more hectic.

“The biggest time of year for risk is actually in the early spring. There have been a lot of studies on this. In the winter, everyone is sort of down and depressed.” Sung said.

It’s perfectly normal to feel a little less happy this time of year due to the weather and the lack of snow we have. “I think the power of why the hotline works so well is the empathy and making a connection with that person[the caller]. I would say that if anyone in your life is going through something, it’s important to listen to them.” Sung said.

It’s important to pay attention to loved ones and those who ask for your attention. Think about what you would want if you were in their place!

Suicide Prevention Hotline:

211 – connects to the closest Maryland headquarters.

1-800-273-8255