Members of the Crisis Hotline care for those that have fallen into depression and thoughts of suicide, working diligently to cope with the disasters of the illness. Suicide can be prevented and is often linked to problems that can be treated according to Helpguide.org. Emotional stress and disasters ‘interfere with our ability to problem solve’ which may cause an individual to take their own life. Individuals like Gloria Jetter are here to help.
Jetter is a full-time counselor for LifeNet Crisis Center in New York City. Everyday she receives 15 to 20 urgent phone calls a day depending on the intent of the calls, the amount each conversation lasts and which intervention she has to perform. Jetter has a full-time position with LifeNet with a Masters degree in clinical social work.
RTTB: What do you say when you first get someone on the line?
Gloria: When I answer the line I say, “Thank you for calling LifeNet. How can I help you?” and then I proceed by asking how the caller is feeling, why they called in and ask them to tell me about their situation. From there I asked questions to assess their risk, their functioning and I give information and referrals to callers in need of treatment. For callers who are feeling suicidal I help them identify ways to cope, develop a safety plan and sometimes I call 911 for them or make a referral for an in home psychiatric visit from professionals. Most importantly I validate caller’s feelings and help normalize their experience by explaining that it’s part of being human to have feelings and sometimes those feelings can be overwhelming.
RTTB: How often are the calls from people who are not considering suicide themselves , but have a friend considering suicide?
Gloria: We often get calls from friends, family or service providers who call in on behalf of someone they are concerned with.
[pullquote_left]Most importantly I validate caller’s feelings and help normalize their experience by explaining that it’s part of being human to have feelings and sometimes those feelings can be overwhelming.[/pullquote_left]
RTTB: Have you noticed a trend in the calls coming in?
Gloria: I have noticed that more calls related to emotional distress caused by financial devastation and economic disparity. I noticed that immediately when the stock market crashed in 2008 and also recently another uptick of calls related to financial issues. However it’s safe to say that money is a common stressor for our callers.
RTTB: Do you often take calls from people who aren’t considering suicide, but are facing other emotional issues?
Gloria: We do receive a good number of calls from folks who are not experiencing thoughts of suicide but are depressed, grieving, or experiencing symptoms of anxiety or other mental illness which impacts their ability to function.
RTTB: What qualifies a person to be a counselor for Lifeline?
Gloria: Lifenet counselors are required to have a bachelor of social worker or psychology (or a mental health related field) and it is strongly recommended that all counselors have master’s degrees in these field and in fact the majority of our staff are master level clinicians.
RTTB: What kind of training do you go through to become a counselor?
RTTB: Our training process included the ASIST training which is applied suicide intervention training and “motivational interviewing” as well as many other trainings that related to mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention.
[pullquote_right]I feel that I’m connected to something that makes a huge difference in the lives of others and I learn and grow from every caller I have a conversation with.[/pullquote_right]
RTTB: How does this job affect you emotionally?
Gloria: I’m always saddened to hear the suffering of others and especially troubled when people face a severe lack of resources so yes this job can be very stressful. However my overall emotional impact is that of feeling very satisfied that I am able to help others on this hot line and provide them with information and emotional support. We also have the opportunity to save many lives and prevent tragedies with our intervention at LifeNet and that is a wonderful feeling.
RTTB: Has working for the Lifeline changed you?
Gloria: Working at LifeNet has made a huge impact on my life. I feel that I’m connected to something that makes a huge difference in the lives of others and I learn and grow from every caller I have a conversation with. Our hot line being available to support people when they are in a time of need and pain in their lives is a profound and beautiful thing and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).