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Hot call to a warm line: Preliminary explorations into doing suicide prevention
Unformatted Document Text:  18 These urges to both solve caller problems and be nondirective can be seen as a dilemma of responsibility. For therapists and counsellors, dilemmas of responsibility consist of a choice between taking responsibility for caller welfare (and to what degree), and respecting the callers’ own innate abilities to make informed decisions about their lives (Dryden, 1987). Even if the recommended action turned out to be successful, this may heighten the potential for the caller to become reliant on the warm line service to such an extent that they would have been less able to help themselves; without self-help, a caller’s progress might have been short-lived. Indeed, callers might “experience a reduced sense of achievement because he or she needed assistance” (Goldsmith, 1992, p. 270). It might then not be consistent with the warm line’s interests in empowering callers as decision-makers. For these and other reasons, giving advice was not recommended at sites 1 or 2, who instructed working peers to “suggest, not advise” and “offer options; don’t give advice” respectively. Yet situations arose where callers seemingly were in danger of harming themselves. The difficulty of handling this type of situation would be characterized as follows: In urgent circumstances, if working peers were not pro-active, callers might have needlessly suffered. Yet, if working peers were pro-active, they risked putting forth options that might have been incorrect for callers or have backfired, where the working peers got blamed for their recommendations. However, alternate strategies, such as more indirect ones, lacking in persuasive force, could have been viewed by clients as not pertinent to them and/or rejected easily by them by treating them as irrelevant (Silverman, 1997). Thus, a more explicitly persuasive approach, albeit hedged, in offering solutions was treated as appropriate in urgent circumstances. Yet, in this call, it was the expression of concern about a caller’s suicidal desires, and not indirect or direct advice, that helped lead to a caller’s own justification for not doing such a dire

Authors: Pudlinski, Christopher.
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18
These urges to both solve caller problems and be nondirective can be seen as a dilemma
of responsibility. For therapists and counsellors, dilemmas of responsibility consist of a choice
between taking responsibility for caller welfare (and to what degree), and respecting the callers’
own innate abilities to make informed decisions about their lives (Dryden, 1987). Even if the
recommended action turned out to be successful, this may heighten the potential for the caller to
become reliant on the warm line service to such an extent that they would have been less able to
help themselves; without self-help, a caller’s progress might have been short-lived. Indeed,
callers might “experience a reduced sense of achievement because he or she needed assistance”
(Goldsmith, 1992, p. 270). It might then not be consistent with the warm line’s interests in
empowering callers as decision-makers. For these and other reasons, giving advice was not
recommended at sites 1 or 2, who instructed working peers to “suggest, not advise” and “offer
options; don’t give advice” respectively.
Yet situations arose where callers seemingly were in danger of harming themselves. The
difficulty of handling this type of situation would be characterized as follows: In urgent
circumstances, if working peers were not pro-active, callers might have needlessly suffered. Yet,
if working peers were pro-active, they risked putting forth options that might have been incorrect
for callers or have backfired, where the working peers got blamed for their recommendations.
However, alternate strategies, such as more indirect ones, lacking in persuasive force, could have
been viewed by clients as not pertinent to them and/or rejected easily by them by treating them as
irrelevant (Silverman, 1997). Thus, a more explicitly persuasive approach, albeit hedged, in
offering solutions was treated as appropriate in urgent circumstances.
Yet, in this call, it was the expression of concern about a caller’s suicidal desires, and not
indirect or direct advice, that helped lead to a caller’s own justification for not doing such a dire


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