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.