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Hot call to a warm line: Preliminary explorations into doing suicide prevention
Unformatted Document Text:  4 Second, working peers were, by default, responsible for the caller’s welfare up until the time they referred the call to Crisis. Yet, I observed instances where crisis services were not able to mollify the caller and callers sought out the warm line again for further assistance. Lastly, working peers often felt powerless in a situation in which callers needed help the most. This feeling stemmed from contrary instructions, for all three sites trained working peers how to deal with a caller in crisis and yet all three sites also urged working peers that the best option was to forward these calls to an appropriate crisis service. While working peers are instructed not to take responsibility for caller problems, such problems might be best solved by peers, not professionals or para-professionals, taking some responsibility for the caller’s actions. Research Questions As part of a larger study on “consumer-run warm lines” and advice giving, I observed 3 different warm lines and recorded 44 calls with the informed consent of all participants. One of these calls, call #26 at site 2, was a crisis call. This call provides a unique opportunity, similar to Sacks’ (1967) earlier work, to use conversation analysis to examine methods used to express and address suicidal thoughts, and to discuss issues of competence in such settings. The working peer, one of two workers who received calls via a beeper in their own homes at site 2, felt he inadequately addressed the caller’s suicidal thoughts in this particularly difficult crisis call with a first-time caller: I don’t think I’m gonna sleep that well tonight. I’m worried that she might be suicidal. . . . I blew it big time! It was my worst hour on the warm line. . . . She felt I was doing well, but I thought I wasn’t.

Authors: Pudlinski, Christopher.
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Second, working peers were, by default, responsible for the caller’s welfare up until the time they
referred the call to Crisis. Yet, I observed instances where crisis services were not able to mollify
the caller and callers sought out the warm line again for further assistance. Lastly, working peers
often felt powerless in a situation in which callers needed help the most. This feeling stemmed
from contrary instructions, for all three sites trained working peers how to deal with a caller in
crisis and yet all three sites also urged working peers that the best option was to forward these
calls to an appropriate crisis service. While working peers are instructed not to take
responsibility for caller problems, such problems might be best solved by peers, not professionals
or para-professionals, taking some responsibility for the caller’s actions.
Research Questions
As part of a larger study on “consumer-run warm lines” and advice giving, I observed 3
different warm lines and recorded 44 calls with the informed consent of all participants. One of
these calls, call #26 at site 2, was a crisis call. This call provides a unique opportunity, similar to
Sacks’ (1967) earlier work, to use conversation analysis to examine methods used to express and
address suicidal thoughts, and to discuss issues of competence in such settings.
The working peer, one of two workers who received calls via a beeper in their own homes
at site 2, felt he inadequately addressed the caller’s suicidal thoughts in this particularly difficult
crisis call with a first-time caller:
I don’t think I’m gonna sleep that well tonight. I’m worried that she might be
suicidal. . . . I blew it big time! It was my worst hour on the warm line. . . . She
felt I was doing well, but I thought I wasn’t.


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