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Posts Tagged ‘Crisis’

What we took away from NOMORE.org’s ad

The famous pro-football championship game that aired last night (honestly, it’s unclear whether we’re allowed to use the trademarked name in our blog, so let’s err on the side of caution, shall we? :-) ) is arguably watched for its commercials just as much as it is for the game itself. As usual, this year’s game produced a number of ads that are generating lots of conversation, both good and bad. It was a great year for ads that focused on social awareness. For instance the “Make it Happy” ads by Coca Cola advocate for positivity in response to bullying on the internet and social media. The “Like a Girl” ad reminds society to stop using that phrase as an insult. And after a year of controversy surrounding the NFL’s handling of domestic violence, there were ads tackling that topic as well.

Last week the organization NOMORE.org released a very powerful ad, which was also shown during the game. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out below.

This is easily one of the most compelling, important tv spots I’ve seen in a long time. When I first watched it I felt sad, scared, and anxious as I listened to the exchange between the woman and the 9-1-1 operator. It’s one thing to understand what domestic violence is, but it’s quite another thing to hear the call for help.*

There are several messages I took away from the commercial. How isolating domestic violence is, for instance. Or how resourceful and resilient survivors of domestic violence are. But for me the most resounding message came at the end of the ad with the text on the screen: “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.”

Finding the strength to speak up can be difficult. Finding someone who can listen, who can read between the lines if necessary in order to help — that’s even harder. And we know that helpline workers use their expert skills to do this with clients every day, not just when it comes to domestic violence, but in identifying child abuse, or thoughts of suicide. You’re able to weed through their words, to pick up on the slightest hint of what’s below the surface, and uncover the deeper issue.

But there are lots of times when a verbal conversation just isn’t possible at all. The woman portrayed in the ad was able to make an excuse to use the phone, and cleverly found a way to call for help without her abuser realizing it. There’s a reason why efforts are underway to enable texting to 9-1-1. Local law enforcement and emergency services are recognizing that in some situations, a phone call is dangerous or impossible.

More and more, help seekers reach out via chat or text instead of a phone call, too. Sometimes because of personal preference, and sometimes because silence is necessary. The instance shown in the ad is just one example; certainly chat or text has been used by those affected by domestic violence to reach out for online emotional support, or even receive emergency rescue during a violent incident. But there are other scenarios where this might be needed, and they may not all be as dire as the call in the commercial.

Think of the teen who wants to discreetly discuss his sexuality without risking a parent or sibling listening in on the conversation. Or the young woman at a party who is feeling anxious and upset, but can’t verbalize that to the friends she’s with and doesn’t want others to overhear. A child may have just been bullied in the hallway at school, and they find it much easier to hop on a library computer for a chat session than it is to make a phone call.

There are plenty of instances where someone needs to talk, but they can’t say the words outloud. It’s important that we be there to listen through the channels the help seekers want to use.

* While the call in the commercial feels very real, it is actually a re-enactment of a real call to 9-1-1

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Why we should work to debunk the myth about suicide and the holidays

I distinctly remember the first time I learned the truth about a common myth related to suicide. It was nearly 14 years ago, and I was sitting with my fellow would-be hotline volunteers in our training class, ready to tackle the lesson we were all most nervous about: Suicide. We filled out a pre-test, designed to gauge our base knowledge about the topic, and see what sorts of preconceptions we were bringing with us to our volunteer experience. The true or false quiz seemed simple enough to me at the time, a college junior who had been through her share of advanced psychology classes and was about a year from graduation, in spite of those classes having provided very little mention of suicide. I arrived at one that gave me pause. “True or False: The suicide rate increases around the holidays.”


I was a little stumped. “Gosh…I feel like I hear a lot about suicide during the holiday season,” I thought to myself. “And I know I’ve heard that statistic…somewhere. And hey, what time of year is more stressful for people than that whole period between Thanksgiving and the New Year? It makes sense. True.” My pencil checked the box.

Well (spoiler alert!) I was wrong. We all listened intently to the correct answers and found that much of what we thought was true about suicide was, in fact, false. And I remember feeling almost angry about this, like why was this whole topic so taboo, so secretive, that complete fallacies could be out there in the universe parading around as truths all these years. But that particular myth about the holidays was really stuck in my craw.

So stuck, in fact, that it’s become a running joke between me and my husband because he’s been witness to my missionary-like commitment to setting the record straight. I yell at the TV when I see a show reinforcing the myth. We’d be at a party and someone would find out where I worked and inevitably I’d get lots of questions about suicide, mental health, and other topics. Without a doubt someone would ask if it’s true, or make a comment about how more suicides happen around the holidays. My eyes would widen (another potential convert to help spread my gospel of truth!) as I got to explain (my husband might prefer the term “lecture”) that this was false, and that December can actually be a month where there are fewer suicides, but that springtime does seem to be a time where we lose more people to suicide than other times of year.

In addition to the fact that falsehoods in general just bug me, something about this one would set me over the edge, and I think it’s because I feel it’s actually a bit dangerous to have myths such as this one circulating.

Look, I’m glad that there are articles about suicide this time of year, any time of year for that matter, but too many of them use the myth as a means to drive traffic to their site or increase readership without clearly and categorically setting the record straight that there’s really no relationship between suicide and the holiday season. They also tend to leave out important information about prevention, according to a report by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

What ends up happening is that people continue to feel there is a relationship (look at all these articles that come out about suicide in December, it must be true!) and I think, from that, two things happen.

First, attention to the topic of suicide is heightened at a time of year when incidents are typically at their lowest. Again, awareness is a good thing anytime, but where are all these articles during the rest of the year, particularly in springtime through summer when the incidents of suicide actually do increase? We end up with an abundance of articles and material when the myth creates a demand for content yet incidents are at their lowest, and a lack of attention when they’re at their highest in the spring and the public’s heightened awareness and knowledge of prevention methods could especially be put to good use.

Second, I think the perpetration of this myth promotes a sort of romanticism of, or glamorizes the idea of a holiday suicide. While you cannot put the thought of suicide in someone’s head by simply talking about it (another myth we frequently try to squash), irresponsible reporting of suicide in the media can contribute to the contagion phenomenon, which is very real. This idea that the holidays are a “good” time or a normal time to complete one’s suicide plan, or that a person “should” feel extra depressed, lonely, and susceptible to their thoughts of suicide this time of year can put someone already contemplating suicide in an especially vulnerable place.

It’s true that the holidays can be a stressful time of year. For someone who is already lonely, depressed, or otherwise suffering it can be a tough time. But there’s no evidence to suggest that this results in more people ending their own life around the holidays. I hope everyone will join me in what’s become a personal crusade to stop this myth in its tracks, and replace it with more productive information and education towards suicide prevention all year round.

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“It’s a Wonderful Life” As Viewed by the Crisis Worker

Whether you pop in the DVD or catch one of the many showings on television this season, the Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” tops many must-watch lists for holiday viewing. But for those of you who work in crisis and suicide prevention we suspect you view this film through a unique lens…

You know you’re a Crisis Worker watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” if…

  • You comment on how the movie perpetuates the myth that suicide rates go up at Christmastime

  • You’re jealous that Clarence got to see a factual recap of George’s life before talking to him and think about how much that would help you respond to callers

  • You know George’s circumstances aren’t nearly as bad as many of the people you’ve talked to, and yet you still empathize with him and don’t judge him for feeling suicidal

  • You can list all the warning signs that George is giving, and yell at the other characters for not picking up on them

  • Even better, you wish someone would talk to George about his behavior and ask him directly if he was thinking of suicide

  • You praise Mary for calling a family member to talk about how George was behaving, and not keeping his behavior a secret

  • It reminds you of all the people you’ve spoken to that thought their suicide would be what’s best for their family

  • You note that George chose a very high lethality method

  • You wish Clarence would spend more time letting George tell him how he’s feeling and what has him thinking about suicide, instead of shutting him down and telling George he shouldn’t say such things

  • You’re relieved when George finds his reasons for living

  • You’re thankful for the happy ending, but you know that it’s rarely wrapped up so easily

  • You’re reminded of why you do the work you do

Have you had any of these thoughts while watching this classic film? Got any other thoughts to add? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment!

And while you may not have wings, we know the countless individuals touched by your caring voices consider you all guardian angels. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to saving lives, during the holidays and all year round.

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AAS Presents – The Lessons from Attempting to Prevent College Suicide: Connecting Mental Health Resources and Conducting Outreach

Webinars - textOn Thursday December 11, 2014 at 1:00pm EST, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) will host a Webinar on preventing suicide among college students.

Courtesty of AAS, here is the description of the webinar content:

To prevent suicide on a college campus one needs more than an individual or a team, rather one needs an army (though certainly an individual can be the driving force behind the movement). Suicide prevention can’t merely be the job of the administration, or the the mental health providers, but rather it must be the responsibility of the entire university community. In keeping with this year’s conference theme “Get Connected,” this webinar will discuss the lessons learned from the Mississippi State University Connection Project, a SAMHSA-funded movement designed to connect mental health resources on campus, and students to those resources. In particular, the webinar will cover ways to build alliances across university departments and administration to increase buy-in. It will also cover Read More…

Click here to register

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Mental Health America Presents: Funding Primary Prevention – Overcoming Challenges with Innovative Financing Mechanisms

Webinars - textOn Monday September 8, 2014 at 2:00pm EST, Mental Health America and SAMHSA will present a Webinar on overcoming the challenges associated with funding primary prevention initiatives.

Courtesty of Mental Health America, here is the description of the webinar content:

Identifying sustainable financing for primary prevention is a challenge throughout human service sectors. Although many sectors – mental health and substance abuse, general health, education, public health, child welfare, juvenile justice – are concerned with individual and community well-being; financing, policy and programmatic divisions make collaboration between sectors difficult. In an attempt to better understand the financing landscape and promote understanding between human service fields, this webinar will review the challenges of our current system, explore major existing funding mechanisms, and share emerging and innovative public and private financing strategies that can be utilized for primary prevention interventions. Read More…

Intended Audience: This webinar is aimed at federal, state, and county level stakeholders from multiple sectors – behavioral health, general health, public health, education, child welfare, and juvenile justice – who are interested in primary prevention. The information may also be of interest to researchers, community based organizations, and others who are concerned with promoting individual, family, and community wellbeing.

Click here to register

Can’t make it to this webinar? No problem, Mental Health America will make the recording and slides available on their website once the webinar has ended.

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AAS Presents Non-suicidal self-injury: Essentials for clinicians

Webinars - textOn August 14, 2014 at 12:00pm EST, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) will present a webinar on non-suicidal self-injury.

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is often equated with suicide or a suicide attempt, when in fact self-injury is its own separate and complex issue. Clinicians, helpline personnel, and other mental health professionals often indicate they’d like more education on this issue, and so this webinar will be extremely helpful.

Courtesty of AAS, here is the description of the webinar content:

“This webinar will address key empirical, theoretical, and practical issues pertinent to non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) among youth and young adults. This includes an overview of: a) the most up-to-date knowledge regarding NSSI, b) a personal account of a lived experience of NSSI, and c) empirically-informed approaches for use when working with clients who struggle with NSSI.

This webinar is being offered Free to AAS members, and at the exceptional value of just $35 for Non-Members. It also offers 1 CE credit available for psychologists and counselors.

AAS is bringing in two great presenters on the subject matter to educate everyone who attends.

Dese’Rae L. Stage is a photographer, writer, and suicide awareness advocate based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founder of Live Through This, a suicide awareness initiative that pairs the portraits of attempt survivors with stories and their experiences, in their own words. She also has lived experience of NSSI and a suicide attempt.

Stephen P. Lewis, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph. His research has been featured in various media outlets, including The New York Times, Time, USA Today, and ABC. Dr. Lewis is co-author of the book Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, which is part of the Advances in Psychotherapy series by the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12). He is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Self-Injury Outreach and Support (SiOS), an international outreach initiative providing current information and resources to individuals who self-injure, those who have recovered, as well as their families, friends, teachers and the health professionals who work for them.

Click here to learn more about the webinar and its learning objectives, and to Register.

This webinar will provide useful information for clinicians and other professionals who want to better understand self-injury and how to help those who self-injure. There are lots of great webinars, training opportunities, and other professional development opportunities presented by AAS that are only available to members. To learn more about AAS membership click here.

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AIRS Presents: Forecasting the Ferocious – Predicting Tornadoes at the Storm Prediction Center

Webinars - textOn Thursday July 17, 2014 at 2:30pm EST, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) will present a Webinar on predicting tornadoes at the storm prediction center.

Courtesty of AIRS, here is the description of the webinar content:

“Join Gregory Carbin from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to learn more about tornado and severe storm prediction. Greg is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Greg is considered one of NOAA’s leading experts on tornadoes and severe storm forecasting. He has been interviewed extensively about severe weather and usually provides historical context to national and international media after major events. This webinar is brought to you by the AIRS Disaster Committee and will be inroduced by Janna Shoe, United Way of Greater Houston and Committee Co-Chair.”

Note: This webinar is only available via the Internet. There will be no telephone connection. If you have a computer that can play the audio on a YouTube video, you should be able to access this webinar

Click here to Register for the webinar

This webinar aims to provide useful information for your helpline operations in times of disaster. There are tons of great webinars, training opportunities, and other professional development opportunities presented by AIRS that are only available to members. Want to become a member of AIRS and take advantage of all the great perks of membership? Find out how.

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iCarol partners with CONTACT USA for Webinar series

iCarol is more than a product that helps you manage the many facets of running your helpline. We’ve worked on helplines so we know the challenges you face. From our iCarol user community to our industry white papers and downloadable guides to our blog, we care about bringing you relevant content that will help you enhance and grow the services you provide to your clients and communities.

ChatboardIn our latest endeavor to bring you helpful material, we’re partnering with CONTACT USA (CUSA) to provide a series of webinars covering important topics in the areas of Helpline Management, Information and referral, and Online Emotional Support (Chat and Texting).

The first of these webinars, scheduled for May 20th, will focus on Online Emotional Support, why you should be providing this service, and how you can integrate this new channel into your existing services. iCarol pioneered the efforts in the helpline industry to integrate chat and texting capabilities with the longstanding avenue of phone calls. CONTACT USA is the leader in Online Emotional Support training and accreditation. Together we have the tools and expertise you need to turn the idea of offering these services to your community into a reality.

Anecdotal evidence from crisis centers around the country has shown that for many years young people have seemed reticent to reach out to a telephone hotline. Additionally, people of all ages may feel more comfortable with the additional layer of anonymity and ease of access afforded by communicating through a computer. This includes people that may have social anxieties, may be deaf or hard-of-hearing or living with other disabilities that make verbal communication more challenging.

So we hope you’ll save the date and join us and CONTACT USA on May 20th to learn more about this exciting time for our industry. Can’t wait? Join us for one of our webinars to show you iCarol’s messaging capabilities or contact us to schedule a private walk through.

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iCarol to present workshop on Online Emotional Support at AAS Conference

We’re gearing up for the American Association of Suicidology’s 47th Annual Conference in Los Angeles! We’re looking forward to seeing so many of our friends and colleagues there; it’s always a great chance to catch up with everyone in the helpline and suicide prevention industry.

This year iCarol is particularly excited to present a special lunch session on Friday April 11th. Our workshop is
Chat, Texting, Mobile and Social: A look at today and the future of online emotional support with iCarol.

WebinarsWith every passing year, the use of new channels to seek help continues to expand. Join this session to help your crisis center evaluate these channels, determine your next steps and plan your technology choices to adapt to the evolving Online Emotional Support (OES) landscape. You’ll hear from your peers and technology experts about the best way to get started serving people interactively using the electronically written, rather than the spoken word.Smart Phone  with two thumbs

Adding new channels by which your clients can reach you can be intimidating and may leave you with a lot of questions. We hope to answer the questions you may have about these new technologies and give you confidence to embark on this new and exciting path with the tools iCarol has developed. We hope you’ll join us for this session at AAS! Not attending the conference but still want to learn more about our Online Emotional Support capabilities? Sign up for a webinar!

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AIRS Presents: Family Crisis Centers in Time of Disaster

Webinars - textOn Monday March 24, 2014 at 4pm EST, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) will present a Webinar on Family Crisis Centers in Time of Disaster.

Courtesty of AIRS, here is the description of the webinar content:

“Mass fatality incidents arise from natural and man-made disasters (accidental and intentional) and disease outbreaks. This AIRS webinar explains the concept of a Family Assistance Center and the role of an I&R processing missing persons calls following a mass fatality incident.”

“Learn from David Jobe and Sandra Ray of the United Way of Greater Houston about how their agency plays a significant role as the initial point of contact integrated within a comprehensive strategy for the Houston-Galveston region in southeast Texas.”

Note: This webinar is only available via the Internet. There will be no telephone connection. If you have a computer that can play the audio on a YouTube video, you should be able to access this webinar

Click here to Register for the webinar

This webinar aims to provide useful information for your helpline operations in times of disaster. There are tons of great webinars, training opportunities, and other professional development opportunities presented by AIRS that are only available to members. Want to become a member of AIRS and take advantage of all the great perks of membership? Find out how.

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