Reports of gun violence often dominate media coverage in the US, and unfortunately in the United States far more people die by gun violence than any other developed nation in the world. A fact often not mentioned when talking about gun violence though, is that in the US deaths by suicide using a gun are about double the number of deaths by homicide using a gun. These and other statistics are available via GunPolicy.org, a website supported by the United Nations Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation.
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has put out a number of infographics for distribution on social media and websites to promote gun safety as it pertains to suicide prevention. You can view them all, download them, and then share them on your site or social media feed by visiting this page.
One year ago today the world lost a beloved actor, comedian, and humanitarian to suicide. For many people this was the first time suicide touched their life, and for others it was a reminder of painful losses or struggles they personally experienced in their own lives. Universally Robin Williams’ death ignited a conversation about suicide, recovery from substance abuse, depression, and other mental illnesses. Many helplines reported increased call volume for weeks and months following his death.
The American Association of Suicidology released a statement that includes some helpful information. We encourage you to take a look by visiting their Facebook post about this anniversary.
On July 28th at 2:00pm EDT, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will present a Webinar on trauma-informed care.
Courtesty of SAMHSA/HRSA, here is the description of the webinar content:
“People who experience physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening events can have lasting adverse mental and physical health effects. Trauma-informed care can improve patient engagement with their providers and support health outcomes. In addition, a clinic environment that realizes the widespread impact of trauma can actively resist re-traumatization of the people you serve.
How can you embed trauma-informed approaches into the practice of your integrated primary care clinic?
Join this webinar to walk through what a trauma-informed clinic looks like and simple steps you can take to ensure your services and clinic environment are trauma-informed. “
Click here to learn more and register for the webinar
As we continue to recognize Minority Mental Health Awareness in July, check out this great infographic on multicultural mental health, courtesy of NAMI.
Crises are universal in nature and affect all people. Sources of crisis can include, but are not limited to: natural disaster, domestic violence, change in marital status, economic burdens, death of a loved one, chronic or terminal health conditions, medical emergencies, loss of employment, assault, or burglary.
Even though there is universality to crisis, culture plays a strong role in how crisis is interpreted, both for the crisis intervener and the person in crisis.
The crisis intervention responder focuses on providing an immediate and temporary emotional first aid to the person in crisis. Interventions are utilized to assist the person in crisis and target the circumstances of the presenting problem. The goal is to reduce the level of stress for the person in crisis, modulate the intensity of the stressors, and return to a level of normalcy at the pre-crisis level of functioning.
Due to the need for immediate response on part of the crisis intervener, factors of culture and cultural identity are often neglected. Since the crisis intervener and person in crisis often come from different cultures (i.e. age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, occupation, income, education, mental and physical abilities), it is important to develop an immediate trust between the two for the purpose of assisting the person in crisis to regain their coping mechanisms and return to a pre-crisis level of functioning.
The quick development of rapport and trust between people of different cultures often requires the crisis intervener to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, and demonstrate an acceptance of cultural differences.
It is crucial that professionals who work with people in crisis be aware of their own issues. When intervening in a cross-cultural situation, ask yourself important questions such as, “What am I feeling now?” It is most important that professionals develop an awareness of their own prejudices around cultural diversity.
Crisis intervention often demands quick responses in a limited period of time. Depending on the severity of a crisis, rapid questions and answer are often required to manage the crisis response. However, people from many cultural groups see questioning as an intrusion into privacy. Therefore, informing the person in crisis of the need to ask questions can help people from those cultural groups understand that this type of questioning is a necessary, yet temporary strategy in order to assure safety. When working with someone in crisis while respecting cultural differences, it may be best to ask, “It is important that I ask some personal questions in order to best help you. Is it OK that I do that?” Asking permission can go a long way in building rapport during the crisis event.
After symptoms of the crisis are stabilized and controlled, acknowledgment and appreciation of the culture of the person in crisis can help to identify cultural resources for after-care. Resources from family, church, ethnic or specialized agencies can provide continuing support needed after the immediate and urgent symptoms are controlled.
An article featured on CNN’s website as part of their “Project Happy” series is putting the focus on Crisis Workers, their happiness with their jobs and lives, what inspires them, and how they practice self-care.
The article features quotes from staff from helplines across the US, including many of our clients, giving their input about what keeps them happy.
Check out the full article on CNN’s website.
One key feature of iCarol is the ability to link and share service delivery with other helplines in a variety of ways. Historically a common partnership scenario involves call centers who pass some or all of their calls to other iCarol-using centers either as after-hours contracts, or on an as-needed basis for overflow. iCarol accommodates these partnerships with call report sharing capabilities. Much the same with resources, centers can share resource databases with others who may be taking their calls, or to better service the needs of help-seekers with a wider range of potential services to refer them to, or through setting up provincial and state-wide resource databases to be accessed by a network of helplines who can all take part in maintaining these resources, thus reducing burden to each individual center.
These same principles of sharing volume to benefit centers and clients alike also extends to iCarol Messaging, and in recent month’s we’ve made improvements in this arena.
As an example, one nationwide network using iCarol was using a sort of round-robin approach in how to route chats to the centers who were members of that network. Visitors would arrive to the website and click through to chat, and from there they’d be routed to one of the centers based on the schedule, and the coverage area of the center. Once they were properly routed, they’d arrive at that center’s registration page and after completing registration they’d appear in just that center’s messaging queue.
There are some challenges to this approach, namely:
- The routing system didn’t take counselor availability into account so chats may be routed but the destination center may be overwhelmed with other work and short on counselors to take chats
- The visitor was visible just in the iCarol system to which they were routed
- Registration pages may have a different look and feel, depending on the center to which the visitor was sent
- Lack of control over the data being collected by individual centers
- Statistics could not be run in real-time; they had to be aggregated first
Our developers have been working on a new approach for this network, and they’re currently using it to much success during the pilot period. So, how does the approach work now? The network is using a single shared “portal” made available to the participating centers in their iCarol systems, rather than routing the chats as it did before. This means:
- Standardized registration pages make for a more consistent look and feel, and better branding for the network
- Pre-written messages, reporting forms, and data collection are standardized
- The network system directly hosts and controls their own data, so they get better reporting capabilities
- Chats are visible to any center serving the visitor’s area, meaning better load balancing and shorter wait times for visitors, fewer abandoned chats
- Chats are clearly marked as being from the network, but appear in the same queue as the center’s other local chats for ease of use
We’re excited to say that this pilot period has gone very well and the network is enjoying the benefits of the shared portal technology.
We’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your network whether it’s provincial/statewide, or national, to see how this functionality could improve and streamline your messaging services and benefit all your participating centers and visitors alike. Current iCarol users, please open a case with us, or if you’re not using iCarol yet please contact us to learn more!
When your volunteers are working with a help-seeker either on the phone, in-person, or online, there may come a time where assessing that person’s risk for suicide becomes necessary. Several years ago the Lifeline developed suicide risk assessment standards based on industry research. We then took these standards into consideration and developed a tool for use in iCarol that guides your volunteers and staff through that assessment process. Like other forms in iCarol, this guide can be customized to your needs.
The assessment begins with three basic and direct questions that gauge whether the person is thinking of suicide today, if they’ve thought about suicide very recently, and whether they have ever attempted to kill themselves.
Instructions guide the worker to proceed if any of the questions receive a ‘Yes’ answer. A fourth question asking about suicide in progress can help determine imminent risk, and our ‘Help tip’ reveals important questions to help quickly clarify this risk and begin rescue if that is part of your helpline’s policies.
Four areas influencing risk are explored: Desire, Capability, Intent, and Buffers and Connectedness. Each section contains a number of topics, each with a ‘Help tip’ providing suggestions on the types of questions or statements that could be worked into the conversation. This can help your staff build rapport with the client and allows the interaction to continue naturally, rather than feeling like a questionnaire.
As they talk with the client, they can select any of three options for each area which best captures where the client is for that particular topic. As these options are selected, our tool weights these answers and provides a measurement that helps gauge the overall level of risk.
Next, your worker can discuss and record the client’s reasons for living and reasons for dying. This can be a compelling tool for discussion and an important piece of the conversation. When someone is at risk for suicide, finding and focusing on reasons for living as compared to their reasons for dying can be a powerful exercise.
Finally, your worker can record the level of risk as determined through their discussion with the client or from the measurement tool. A series of instructions can help guide them towards resolution, referral, and other outcomes.
Again, because our forms are customizable to your own practices, this guide can be used exactly as delivered or you can make your own adjustments and edits if needed.
Providing a safe place for open, honest discussion about suicide, free of judgment, is the cornerstone of any crisis service. This powerful risk assessment tool will help your volunteers and staff feel supported, equipped, and confident when working with callers at risk for suicide, all while helping your center conform with industry standards.
Want to know more about our Suicide Risk Assessment tools, or want to enable them in your system? Please , or existing users can open a support case.
March is Social Work Month and a great opportunity to appreciate and thank Social Workers everywhere for their tireless dedication to improving the lives of people worldwide. This is a particularly special year for Social Work as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Many of you working in the helpline industry have a social work background or are certified or licensed social workers, and certainly the work that any helpline does classifies as falling into the category of social work. In honor of Social Work Month, the Oxford University Press has temporarily made available, for free, articles, videos, and more that may be of interest to you.
For more great information on Social Work Month and social work in general, visit NASW’s Social Work Month webpage.
The HBO Documentary “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” first aired on HBO over a year ago, and at the Academy Award Nominations on Thursday morning, they announced that the film was among the nominees for Best Short Subject Documentary! Congrats to the filmmakers for being nominated for Hollywood’s most prestigious award.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, the film is definitely worth checking out. It’s an intimate look at suicide prevention hotline work. The documentary highlights the work of the call center in Canadaigua, NY that answers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone line operated specifically for veterans at risk of suicide. The documentary features harrowing footage of crisis responders working to find anonymous callers in imminent danger, and the quiet and touching moments between the empathetic workers who listen without judgment and the veterans reaching out for help. It’s available for purchase and rent, or HBO subscribers can watch via HBO GO.
This is a truly well-made film that shines a light on the hard work of suicide prevention lines, and the struggles faced by members of the military. I know I’ll be cheering it on when I’m watching the Oscars this February.