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Posts Tagged ‘suicide prevention’

“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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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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Career Opportunities at MHA-NYC

Vols-Staff with Question Mark

Please see below for a career opportunity with our friends at MHA-NYC:

    MHA-NYC is recruiting for the exciting new role of Program Director for the NYC Support program. NYC Support will continue the pathbreaking history of its predecessor, LifeNet, as New York City’s premier information and referral, supportive counseling, and crisis intervention services by telephone, text, and web chat. In addition, NYC Support will utilize cutting edge technologies to provide peer support services, enhanced follow-up, and eventually appointment scheduling to New Yorkers 24/7/365. MHA-NYC is looking for a Program Director to manage all aspects of the program’s operations and clinical practice, and continue LifeNet’s legacy of dynamic leadership in the crisis center community.

    Read the full job description and application instructions here.

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lgbt pride month gay lesbian bisexual transgender

Like so many others throughout the US and the rest of the world, we’re heartbroken over the events that played out early Sunday morning in Orlando. Yet another city’s name has become synonymous with tragedy.

Violence inflicted upon any person or group of people is horrific regardless of the circumstances, location in the world, or nature of the attack. The shooting in Orlando left us saddened because for many who identify as LGBTQIA, clubs and bars like Pulse make up part of the fabric of the LGBT community along with outreach centers and other friendly gathering places. For those who don’t find acceptance at home, these spaces are sanctuaries and the people in them become like family. This act of violence was carried out during Pride Month when members of the LGBT community and their allies are celebrating together.

These events are a sobering reminder that even in times of sweeping progress for LGBT causes and more visibility than ever, danger still exists and for some communities it is an epidemic. The threat of violence makes a huge impact on the mental health and well-being of LGBT people, and losses to suicide and suicide attempt rates continue to be higher among LGBT populations than those of non-LGBT counterparts.

Let us not allow intolerance and violence towards one group spawn persecution of another. Let us all try every day to bring education and awareness to those who may fear the unfamiliar and unknown. Whether that is fear of a sexuality, gender, religion, culture, race, ethnicity, nationality, or other qualities they may find foreign to their own experience. Ignorance, fear, or intolerance can morph and grow into hatred and violence when fed and nurtured. Knowledge and education can bolster tolerance and acceptance. Most importantly, let’s all love and support one another and recognize that when we all stand together in peace and solidarity, we stand stronger.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

To the LGBT and other helplines around the world, thank you for being the light that drives out darkness for so many people.

For emotional support, information and referral, educational materials, and other ways you can support and help the LGBTQIA community, please explore the resources below.
The Trevor Project
LGBT Youthline
Switchboard LGBT Helpline
Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Lesbian & Gay Switchboard
Gay Switchboard Ireland
Trans Lifeline
It Gets Better Project
Human Rights Campaign
Have a resource to add to this list? Leave us a comment below!

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Man who survived Golden Gate Bridge jump to speak in Louisiana

Kevin Hines suicide attempt survivor

Kevin Hines is a mental health advocate, filmmaker, and best-selling author. He’s also one of only a very few people who have survived a suicide attempt by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Tonight he’ll speak in Mandeville, LA at an event titled Cracked but Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt.

Read more about this event, and its special meaning for the local community hosting Kevin tonight. Thanks to our own Christa who alerted us to this story! Sadly she wanted to attend but can’t, as she’s preparing to head to St. Louis for our iCarol Summit and the AIRS Conference. We have a good number of iCarol users and blog readers living in this area of the country, so if you do live in the greater New Orleans area, please consider attending this speaking engagement or sharing it with your friends.

Photo (c) Kevin Hines 2014 from www.kevinhinesstory.com

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Samaritans texting program featured in The Boston Globe

Smart Phone  with one finger

Another texting success story, this time featuring our friends at Samaritans, was covered in a prominent US news publication.

In April, The Boston Globe highlighted the success of Samaritans’ texting program, which you can read here. According to the report, the organization received more than 300 text messages in February, which was nearly triple the number received in January. They expect to receive upwards of 1,000 text messages per month by this summer as word of the program spreads.

Samartians opted to text-enable their helpline number for the purposes of this program, which is part of its success. Another clear contributor to the volume they’re experiencing is their latest advertising partnership with MBTA in Boston which began in January. The T, as it’s known in Boston, began showing messages on LED notification boards with information such as, “Lonely? Desperate? We can help 24/7″ featuring Samaritans’ number. This and other messages appear periodically between 7am and 9pm on weekdays, and 9am until 9pm on weekends.

While Samaritans and MBTA had an advertising partnership prior to this one, it was MBTA that approached Samaritans last year about expanding the messaging to reach an even larger audience. You can read more about this advertising program in The Boston Globe article.

From all of us at iCarol, we’d like to congratulate Samaritans on the success they’ve had so far, and we wish them all the best with this life-saving program moving forward.

To learn more about texting with iCarol, join one of our Service Alternatives: Live Chat and Texting webinars. If you’d like to learn more about text-enabling your helpline number check out our blog article, and reach out to our support team to get started.

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iCarol attending the AAS Conference


From March 30 through April 2, members of our team will be in Chicago for the 49th American Association of Suicidology Conference.

We’ll have a booth at the conference and you’ll see us at many of the events and sessions, too. It’s important to us to learn about and be aware of all the latest research and the expanding needs of helplines as they work to build suicide-safer communities. There’s nothing more important to us than helping you save lives.

We look forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones, too. We’ll be there to talk about iCarol with anyone who would like to learn more and is considering helpline software for their organization. Members of our Product Management team will be on hand, too, and would welcome your specific feedback about how iCarol’s been working for you, and your thoughts on particular features. Please look us up at the conference, or beforehand if you’d like to set up a time to talk.

We look forward to seeing you and learning about all the latest on the life-saving work being done by our helpline industry so that we can continue to build our systems to support you.

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AAS Presents: Harnessing the Presence of a Teachable Moment to Improve Care for Suicide Attempt Survivors

Webinars w gray

On Friday March 11th from 12:00 – 1:00pm EST, the American Association of Suicidology will present a webinar titled “Harnessing the Presence of a Teachable Moment to Improve Care for Suicide Attempt Survivors.”

Description: The population of suicide attempt survivors treated in acute inpatient medical settings is heterogeneous in nature, ranging from those who made a near-lethal attempt with little intent to die to others treated for a serious premeditated suicide attempt meant to result in death. As such, discharge planning will vary based upon multiple factors, including medical coverage, resource allocation, and patient motivation to engage in mental health services. While patients stabilize physically, hospitals could . . . Read More

This webinar is offered free of charge to AAS members, and is just $35 for non-members.

Register now

AAS membership offers learning opportunities like this webinar, discounts on conferences, publications, and training, and more. Click here to learn more.

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