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iCarol team in Phoenix for NASCOD/CUSA conference

NASCOD CUSA 2016 Conference

Next week Polly and Eliisa will be in Phoenix to participate in the NASCOD/CUSA conference.

This annual conference is special to us — it was one of the very first events that we started attending back many years ago when iCarol was first created and available as a software system for helplines. Many of the crisis centers that make up the NASCOD and CUSA groups were some of our first users and so this conference and this group of people holds a special place in our hearts.

If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.

CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.

NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol users and non-users alike.

So if you’ll be one of the many people in Phoenix later this week, please stop by our booth and say hi! If you use iCarol at your helpline then we’d certainly love to get to visit face to face. If you’re not a current user, we’d be grateful for the opportunity to tell you about iCarol Helpline Software and how it’s used by helplines all over the world, many of whom will be represented at this conference. Hope to see you there!

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“The Listeners” and local helpline draw media coverage in Maryland

Listeners Still 9

Last week we shared information with you about “The Listeners,” a new documentary film that goes inside the work of suicide prevention helplines and the listeners who work there.

My hometown is one of the locations hosting a screening in the coming weeks, and my local paper published this article about the upcoming screening, the film itself, and the work of the local helpline (where I used to work!) which is a program of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County in Maryland. In fact, this showing is at capacity, having sold out all available tickets.

The article provides information about the services of the helpline in Frederick, Maryland and highlights the tough but valuable work they do. The publication also interviewed Robert Hurst, the director of the film, and he shares his thoughts on the work of the service where he filmed the documentary. He even participated in the volunteer training so he could get a first-hand feeling of what the volunteers go through, and he shares his feelings and experiences on that process.

A final thing to note about the newspaper article is that the author identifies herself as a suicide attempt survivor with lived experience, and shares her thoughts and comments on helpline services. She had valuable insight to provide that is not only interesting and adds a unique and important perspective to the topic, but may be worth sharing with the listeners at your own helpline.

The screening and local media attend around will undoubtedly lead to increased awareness of the hotline’s services, and integrated fundraising both at the screening and online associated with it, will likely lead to a donation boost as well. I’m excited to attend our local screening of “The Listeners” tomorrow and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts after.

UPDATE: The film was awesome and very well-received by the sold out audience of community supporters, mental health advocates, and helpline staff and volunteers. I can’t wait to share my thoughts — stay tuned!

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Discounts for NASCOD/CUSA conference are ending soon – Register Now!

iCarol Webinars

Join iCarol at the National Crisis Center Conference in Arizona on October 20th: “Inspiring Hope” – presented by NASCOD and CONTACT USA. Attendance is essential for crisis organization managers and invaluable for all who work in crisis organizations and call centers. This conference is all about sharing knowledge and camaraderie; you are not alone!

NASCOD CUSA 2016 crisis helpline Conference

Please come and check out the amazing and definitely hope-inspiring presentation and workshop line-up they have in store for you this year by visiting http://www.nascod.org/conference/

But you must act quickly! Hotel conference discounts end after September 27th and conference registration closes October 7th.

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The Listeners: A documentary about crisis helplines

Listeners Still 9

The Listeners” is a new documentary that follows a group of new volunteers as they go through the challenging and vigorous process of training to take calls at Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Check out the trailer below.

If you’re wondering where you can see the film, click here to see if there’s a screening already scheduled in your area. No screening nearby? No worries — it’s super easy to host a screening at your local theater or organize a showing at a campus or community center.

The film has been endorsed by the Lifeline, and hosting a screening locally provides a great opportunity for raising awareness of your helpline and fundraising, too.

I’ll be going to my local screening in Maryland on October 4th and Christa is going to her local screening in Baton Rouge later in October. We’ll be sure to post our thoughts and reviews — in the meantime go to The Listeners website to learn more about the film, and how to host a screening near you.

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New data available from SAMHSA

Bar Chart

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released statistical findings in several research areas:

    Nearly 10 Million Adults Had Serious Thoughts of Suicide

    A new SAMHSA report reveals that in 2015, 4 percent of American adults aged 18 and older thought seriously about suicide during the past 12 months. Read more…

    Report Highlights Statistics on Patients With Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits Involving Suicide Attempts Who Left Against Medical Advice

    According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, emergency department (ED) visits involving drug-related suicide attempts increased 41 percent from 2004 to 2011, from an estimated 161,586 visits to 228,366 visits. Patients who left the ED before their treatment was completed may have missed a critical opportunity to receive medical follow-up. Read more…

    Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results From the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

    This report shows that among people aged 12 and older, 6.4 million people currently (in the past month) misuse psychotherapeutic medications. Read more…

    National Estimates of Marijuana Use and Related Indicators – National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States, 2002–2014

    The surveillance report from SAMHSA and CDC finds that there has been a significant rise in the current use (past month) of marijuana among people aged 12 and older—from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 8.4 percent in 2014 (an increase of 35 percent). Read more…

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YouthREX presents: Supporting Trans Youth Wellbeing

Webinars w gray

On Thursday September 1st at 12pm EST, YouthRex will present a webinar entitled Supporting Trans Youth Wellbeing.

Description from the YouthREX website:

    Transgender youth experience significant barriers to wellbeing. Join Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC), and Jay Jonah, Master of Social Work student at York University and YouthREX Research Assistant, to discuss recent research that can support the removal of these barriers.

    In this webinar, Dr. Saewyc will provide an overview of key findings from the Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey. Jay Jonah will share an overview of a YouthREX report on Trans Youth and the Right to Access Public Washrooms that includes practical recommendations for youth sector programs and organizations.

Learn more and register

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Creative Fundraising Ideas for Helplines

Idaho Suicide Prevention

According to Larry C. Johnson’s Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, few non-profit organizations see their donors as investors. Often times a non-profit will focus on events where donors get some kind of premium for their one-time donation. Johnson ask us to re-imagine this — to move from a transactional construct to one that is more relational. When we ask people to give, we are inviting them to partner with us, to share in our vision and support our mission and programmatic goals. Before any event we should be asking: Does the event fit in with our mission? Is it worth the time, volunteer and staff effort, and upfront costs? How will we continue to engage our donors afterward? Regardless of the event, be it outreach or fundraising focused, it’s helpful to have a donor management system in place beforehand, to capture data and continue engagement post-event.

My center, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, has held multiple fundraising and outreach events — a concert with an out of town performer who’d played previous benefits for our local NAMI chapter; a semicolon tattoo event — almost 100 people got permanent ink of henna tattoos that evening; hosting the film “The Mask You Live In”, a documentary about the risks of toxic masculinity, at our local art house theater; and a golf tournament this summer.

We have learned that the best fundraisers are the ones with the lowest initial overhead and the least amount of logistical work!

ISPH Venndiagram

We have learned to not be too attached to dollar amounts, but to see these events first and foremost as outreach and volunteer engagement/recruitment opportunities. The concert required the most work and capital outlay, and we just broke even financially. We saw it as an overall success as the press surrounding the event did a lot to raise awareness of our service, and bring more prospective volunteers through our doors. The tattoo and film fundraisers were fairly easy to stage, cost relatively little up front and raised decent money between them. Finally, our golf fundraiser was hosted and staged by a person who had lost a family member to suicide some years prior and approached us with the offer.

We also held an outreach event at a local arts festival where we created “listening stations” (booths with hard wired phones inside and out). One trained volunteer inside each booth played a caller with a thought provoking but non-suicidal/ on-super acute crisis story to tell. We asked participants to pick up the phone and simply listen, while our volunteers, in role, shared their stories. The volunteer then thanked the participant for listening.

With the exception of the concert, our goal with each of these events is to have them be, if possible, “The First Annual…” which lowers the logistical bar for us for next year, and starts to build culture, community and history around each event, both within our shop and in our larger community.

Get creative! Ask your volunteers, staff, and local community members for ideas that fit with your mission! Most of all, have fun with it. Treat your volunteers, staff, and participants well, make the most of community engagement opportunities presented, and keep up the dialogue with all of your new and existing partners/ investors! If you are considering a semicolon tattoo event, keep in mind that an organization called Project Semicolon has trademarked some of the associated imagery and verbiage. We reached out to them and got permission in writing before moving forward with the event.

Guest blogger John Reusser is Director of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, and serves on the Board of Directors for CONTACT USA. John is also a member of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, a board member of the Livewilder Foundation, and Certified ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) Trainer and a licensed Designated Examiner.

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Following year anniversary of services, ONTX shares data

chat vs text

Ontario Online and Text Crisis Services program (ONTX) recently marked a year of service to their communities, and shared data with constituents in their latest newsletter. In the report they describe response to the program as “overwhelmingly positive” while allowing contact with many individuals who otherwise would not have reached out for help.

Some key findings:

  • Total chats and texts: 8,921
  • 75% of visitors were under 24 years old, while that same demographic makes up a very small portion of their phone callers
  • Over 200 specialists trained to take chats and texts
  • They receive an average of 5 suicide-related contacts each time the service is open
  • More than half of visitors said that in the absence of an online emotional support service like ONTX, they would not have spoken to anyone about their problem

For a full look at the released findings click here, or read a summary here. Want future updates from ONTX and other services of DC Ontario? Be sure to sign up for Distress and Crisis Ontario’s newsletter by emailing your request to .

We’re thrilled by the success of our friends at ONTX, though it comes as no surprise to us that they’ve had this response. The caring people at the Distress and Crisis Ontario have been providing listening support and crisis intervention to Ontario for nearly 50 years. Their latest step to make their services available in a way that works for everyone in need demonstrates their commitment to helping people and saving lives.

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Career Opportunities at United Way 2-1-1 service in Durham

Vols-Staff with Question Mark

Please see below for a career opportunity with our friends at United Way 2-1-1 in North Carolina:

    The United Way 2-1-1 service in Durham, North Carolina is currently seeking a Data Coordinator. The Data Coordinator assists with the coordination and upkeep of resource data for United Way 2-1-1. Responsibilities include quality assurance monitoring of data, distributing reports, and responding to inbound and outbound contacts which may range from telephone calls, email response or other mediums of contact contingent upon client specifications.

    Click here to read the full job description and instructions for applying.

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