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Hot call to a warm line: Preliminary explorations into doing suicide prevention
Unformatted Document Text:  3 information on community resources; and conduct role plays of typical calls and crisis calls. Staff encourages peers to be nondirective: actively listen and let callers solve problems; and to build relationships and peer support networks with callers (as an aspect of a secondary philosophy of connectedness). Thus, it would be important on a call with a first-time caller to orient them to this service and encourage them to call again. However, peers also help callers solve problems (see X, 2002b). This problem-solving focus becomes especially important when callers reveal serious problems. As pre-crisis services, warm lines let callers discuss issues before they become serious. In contrast, working peers are instructed to forward or refer the occasional crisis call to an associated hotline service. However, it is not so easy to refer such calls to another agency or to determine when such a call is in progress. Thus, crisis calls were occasionally dealt with by the warm line and became known as especially troubling calls for working peers. For example, a worker described her biggest challenge on the warm line: “every time the phone rings I do a ‘flip in my stomach’ that this could be the one: a crisis. I am always wondering if it is going to be a crisis call.” Crisis calls were the most challenging for three reasons. First, the determination of whether a caller was in crisis was often difficult to make. Uncertainty as to what to do or say was common. Rare was the call that presented itself as a clear-cut crisis. Although supervisors instructed working peers to err on the side of caution, referring a caller to a crisis service when a caller was not in crisis or would have preferred to talk to some one on the warm line could have negative ramifications. For example, a working peer at site 3 called Crisis on a friend who disclosed suicidal thoughts to her over the warm line; the friend, who typically expresses such thoughts in a semi-serious manner, was very upset that Crisis was subsequently involved.

Authors: Pudlinski, Christopher.
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information on community resources; and conduct role plays of typical calls and crisis calls.
Staff encourages peers to be nondirective: actively listen and let callers solve problems; and to
build relationships and peer support networks with callers (as an aspect of a secondary
philosophy of connectedness). Thus, it would be important on a call with a first-time caller to
orient them to this service and encourage them to call again. However, peers also help callers
solve problems (see X, 2002b). This problem-solving focus becomes especially important when
callers reveal serious problems.
As pre-crisis services, warm lines let callers discuss issues before they become serious.
In contrast, working peers are instructed to forward or refer the occasional crisis call to an
associated hotline service. However, it is not so easy to refer such calls to another agency or to
determine when such a call is in progress. Thus, crisis calls were occasionally dealt with by the
warm line and became known as especially troubling calls for working peers. For example, a
worker described her biggest challenge on the warm line: “every time the phone rings I do a ‘flip
in my stomach’ that this could be the one: a crisis. I am always wondering if it is going to be a
crisis call.”
Crisis calls were the most challenging for three reasons. First, the determination of
whether a caller was in crisis was often difficult to make. Uncertainty as to what to do or say was
common. Rare was the call that presented itself as a clear-cut crisis. Although supervisors
instructed working peers to err on the side of caution, referring a caller to a crisis service when a
caller was not in crisis or would have preferred to talk to some one on the warm line could have
negative ramifications. For example, a working peer at site 3 called Crisis on a friend who
disclosed suicidal thoughts to her over the warm line; the friend, who typically expresses such
thoughts in a semi-serious manner, was very upset that Crisis was subsequently involved.


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