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What happens when someone calls a suicide hotline?

182 Answers
Last Updated: 07/03/2020 at 2:30pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Catherine Demirdogucu, Level 4 Diploma with Merit. CBT and Mindfulness Practitioner.


It takes courage and strength to seek help. My desire is to help my clients express themselves and grow in confidence, my support is offered in a nonjudgmental manner.

Top Rated Answers
September 24th, 2015 5:57am
As a volunteer for a particular suicide/emotional support line in the UK (and I can only go by my experience there), I can say that we understand how difficult it must be to pick up the phone in the first place. If you suddenly get nervous, don't like the sound of the operator, hang up. Try again as many times as you like until you feel comfortable to speak. The person you speak to will be highly trained and empathetic, so will understand that you may need to take some time before you start speaking. Silence is fine: take as long as you need, every now and then you'll be gently reminded that the operator is still there, and may ask how they can help, is there anything you would like to talk about, has something happened today - that sort of thing. For the charity I volunteer for, everything remains absolutely confidential. We cannot see your phone number, we don't know where you are. You can be completely honest and open.
September 10th, 2015 12:28am
nothing, they dont help...............................................................................................................
September 27th, 2015 4:30pm
They pick up ask you why you called and they'll give you reasons not to kill yourself talk to you, make you feel loved and give you places to go so it'll never happen again, they are all lovely, confidential and some of the most loving people you'll ever talk to.
January 3rd, 2015 8:00pm
It depends, but from my experience they've varied from unhelpful-but-kind to helpful. Good news is, if they are unhelpful or unkind, YOU have the power to hang up, and, you also have the choice to call back and probably be connected to someone else, or call another hotline number. I have found suicide hotlines able to help: come up with coping techniques, support you in talking to someone you know, help you know when to and how to get professional help, and if you have immediate plans to hurt yourself they may ask to send you help (i think most have the power to send professional support, but they seem to always as first, and only do so if you are showing them signs that you may kill yourself in an extremely immediate sense). I have known suicide hotlines to even pay for and call a cab so that someone who needed to could get to the hospital. If you don't know what to do, they can be an amazing help. I keep three hotline numbers in my phone and advise anyone going through a rough time to keep a hotline or two in their phone and wallet - even if you don't use them, at least you have the choice.
May 28th, 2015 6:39pm
Much like on 7 cups, you will be answered by a trained listener who is there for the caller to talk to, and will take necessary action, whether that be just listening, reassuring, or giving requested assistance. The caller determines the response given by the hotline.
November 21st, 2015 5:48pm
Depending on the suicide hotline, your call may be routed to a central location or, as in the case of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, your call may be answered by the center closest to you. When you call, you'll typically hear a message confirming the number you have reached and then on-hold music until someone can answer your call. WA friendly voice told me their name and asked me how I was doing. I wasn’t pressed for any private, identifying details. The phone counselor simply let me talk. I told her I wasn’t suicidal, but I was depressed and was curious what type of support they offered. I have never needed a hotline because of my excellent support network, so I wasn't sure what to say. However, taking the step to reach out to somebody has always improved my mood, so I told the phone counselor that I felt better and hung up. The SPRC didn’t call back. There was no rescue unit outside my door. I simply had a very nice conversation with a supportive phone counselor who was there to help me if I needed it. If I had been suicidal as I have experienced from time to time in the past, I can imagine that having a sincere person to talk to at four in the morning would be a very valuable asset. My support network isn't nocturnal as I there
September 29th, 2014 12:10pm
When someone calls a suicide hotline or a distress centre and they say they are suicidal they get assessed for the risk at the present moment. If they are currently suicidal, there may have to be an intervention from the police to keep that person safe. If they person is not in any current danger to themselves or others, but the person has thought of suicide, a plan will be made and resources (such as family, hospital, 911, hotlines, etc) will be acknowledged in order for the person to be able to contact in the case that they feel suicidal later on.
September 13th, 2015 9:21pm
When I called I was put on hold for maybe 30-45 seconds while they routed my call to the nearest hotline center. I waited a little and a woman began talking to me calmly and soothingly. I spoke to her for about a half hour and then hung up and felt much better. I haven't called in over a year now and I'm genuinely okay.
September 9th, 2015 11:16am
You can call the suicide hotline for three different things: 1. If you're thinking about suicide 2. If a friend you have is thinking of suicide or is depressed and you want to support them, and 3. If you're in emotional distress. You might have to wait a minute or two on hold, but soon you will connect with someone and you'll be able to talk to them about whatever you're going through. The one's working at the suicide hotline are very supportive and helpful, and will talk to you until you're feeling a little bit better. :)
March 7th, 2018 4:20pm
According to my experience there are some trained volunteers who will emotionally support you and will listen to you without any judgement
December 12th, 2015 11:57am
When you call a hotline usually you first talk to a switch board, who will then put you through to someone who can help you. Who you're then put through to will be non-judgemental and will let you talk about how you're feeling. Calling is not something to be afraid of, if they didn't care or want to help you, they wouldn't answer the phone.
October 29th, 2015 12:36pm
Depending on the suicide hotline, your call may be routed to a central location or, as in the case of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, your call may be answered by the center closest to you. When you call, you'll typically hear a message confirming the number you have reached and then on-hold music until someone can answer your call. Once your call is answered, a caring and trained person will listen to you, learn about your situation, ask questions and will then generally tell you about mental health services in your area. Services in your area can range from a mobile response team to a suicide prevention center staffed with counselors where you can be accommodated overnight.
November 11th, 2014 6:47pm
Sometimes it is really hard to get connected on the hotline, but the operators you meet are very kind. They really want to assist you in whatever you are going through.
September 16th, 2015 6:08pm
Much like what happens here - someone will listen to you while your identity remains anonymous. If, however, a caller is threatening suicide in that very instance, suggests that self-harm is imminent and has at hand the means to do so, then in most states the law mandates that emergency services be sent to help the individual. This should not dissuade anyone from calling. If indeed someone is suicidal, in any way, shape, or form, calling a suicide hotline could be the best thing for such an individual. Never hesitate to let someone you trust know when you are feeling suicidal - if such a person isn't available, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to a crisis line in your area. Be well.
April 16th, 2015 12:18pm
Means that they are searching for help for the suicide thoughts that they are having. it is the first step.
September 27th, 2015 1:42am
When someone calls a suicide hotline they get the help they need, if that means getting someone to come help you or if that means they can talk to you and trust that you will be safe. They will help you to the best of their ability's.
December 6th, 2015 12:09am
It's better to call them crisis hotilnes, because you don't have to be suicidal to use their services. If you are lonely or struggling with depression, you can generally get support for those issues as well. Some operators are instructed to ask everyone who calls if they are feeling suicidal and they have means and a plan to carry out the thoughts. If you have thoughts of harming yourself they will offer you emotional support, if you are in a dangerous situation they will support you and offer to call medical services as well.
January 24th, 2016 7:50pm
When people are in a crisis, where they are considering taking their own lives, it's critical that they reach out to a resource such as a suicide hotline. However, many people are scared of calling a suicide hotline as they aren't sure what will happen if they do call. This fear might keep some people away. Understanding what happens when you call a suicide hotline can help ease your worries and make reaching out to one easier.
October 24th, 2015 1:24am
They are heard. When someone calls a suicide hotline, on the other side there's someone who cares and tries to make the best of a situation. We all deserve to be heard and the people on the other side of the receiver are the ones who listen.
November 1st, 2014 4:33pm
You start talking to someone who is specailizated in suicide and they support you and talk with you about it and try to make you feel better :)
November 18th, 2014 4:21pm
They talk with the person to determine the best plan of action. They will help get that person on the line the help they need.
July 10th, 2015 3:11pm
You are connected to someone who cares and will really listen, as we do here at 7 cups!
September 17th, 2015 1:55pm
we try our best to make them comfortable enough to hang up dial 9 1 1. this is a serious topic in we are not trained to discuss with the person
September 23rd, 2015 12:58pm
There may be a brief hold until you are connected to someone who can assist you. At that time they will ask you a random amount of open ended questions to help you communicate with them more. This allows for the person you are seeking help from to understand what is exactly going on. At that point the person from the hotline will make all possible attempts to help you through effective communication. There could be a possibility where they can contact the authorities if that situation was to rise; but you will be given resources and information toward finding a qualified therapist.
October 25th, 2015 12:45am
They try and get you from a high emotional situation to a lower emotional situation. Usually, it's very helpful.
January 6th, 2016 9:08pm
When you call a suicide hotline you talk to someone who understand that you are in a lot of distress, they dont just tell you to "dont kill yourself", but instead they calm you down and discuss your options with you. Do you need an ambulance? Do you need a doctor to come by your house and talk to you? Either way, unless you hang up on them, they will not leave you until they are sure that you're either getting help, are calm or able to get help yourself.
October 31st, 2014 4:19am
The call operator will provide mental health first aid and help the suicidal person express themselves. If the person would like help and is not actively self-harming the operator can provide formation and support for suicidality management. If the person is actively self-harming or attempting suicide the operator can encourage/ suggest emergency services input. Hopefully the person in crisis will be in a place to accept help.
September 10th, 2015 1:39pm
Someone that is professionally there to help you will pick up and will guide you through some simple steps in order for them to be able to help you and you will be talked to. Please note that this varies among every national and regional hotline.
September 19th, 2015 2:55pm
When someone calls a suicide hotline they are connected to a trained operator who will assess their risk level and generally ask them to contact the emergency services if necessary. These operators are specifically trained in dealing in confidence and with delicacy with suicidal people
October 30th, 2015 6:37pm
They get professional help with someone that knows what they are talking about. You can talk about what is bothering you and get help and advice.