AUSTRALIA: On the suicide prevention frontline

July 17, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

“The fact that someone has picked up the phone and rung Lifeline means that they may only be seeing reasons to die and why they shouldn’t be around,” said Carrie Leeson, CEO of Canberra Lifeline. “What we see on the phones is that there is a part of them that has rung us, therefore there is a part of them that wants to live.” Counselors at Canberra Lifeline recently shared with ABC what inspires them in working with potentially suicidal callers, and what makes these calls challenging. Often, counselors noted, the effect of asking a caller directly whether they are considering suicide can be powerful, allowing the person to speak openly about their feelings – perhaps for the first time. If the caller is not in immediate danger, the counselor helps them to share and process those feelings, before working together on a safety plan that may include a referral to mental health services. The experience of getting a caller to agree to a safety plan is rewarding, said the counselors, though it is sometimes hard to hang up without knowing whether the caller will follow through.

Spark Extra! Read about the growing reach of crisis lines in suicide prevention.