PRS call center, where volunteers provide the empathetic, trained voice that someone in crisis needs to reduce their pain and provide connections to care.
From an early age, we are all taught that if there is an emergency we should dial 9-1-1. We know when we make an emergency call, someone who is trained to help us will answer and eventually an ambulance, a fire truck or a police officer will soon arrive. I remember watching television shows as a child in which a 9-1-1 dispatcher was helping people provide CPR or bandaging a wound, and they had flip charts on their desks helping them guide a caller through their emergency.
For many people, their crisis does not fit this response. When the crisis is your own panic, fear, depression, anxiety, or trauma it is harder to know what to do. There are many numbers available for therapists, doctors, and services for which you can schedule an appointment to be seen for specific problems. But what happens when you are not sure what the problem is? What happens when your pain is emotional and unbearable, and you cannot wait for a few weeks or even a couple of days to talk about it? What is the 9-1-1 response for thoughts so painful it might not feel like you can live another moment?
The number is 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-273-TALK. This is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and this number is answered in your very own community. This number is not a call center in another state; this number is answered locally by people who are just like you. As the director of PRS CrisisLink, I am often asked why people call our crisis center; what problems are they experiencing and how do we help them? The answer is simple: people connect with us when they are in emotional pain. They have limited options in their lives and they need someone to help them sort it out. They need someone who cares to listen and help them find solutions. PRS CrisisLink is staffed with a mix of highly trained employees and volunteers. Many of our crisis workers have been through their own difficulties and are using their experiences to help others. Some are in school working towards becoming a mental health provider and some have lost loved ones to suicide and helping others is a way to honor those who died. Our crisis workers are all people living and working in your community and who have empathy for the challenges life throws at us. We do not use flip charts or standardized responses. We use our humanity and our kindness to offer a safe place to work together to find solutions; sometimes the solution is feeling cared for, heard and understood.
We know that for every person who dies by suicide in our community, roughly 250 people live through those thoughts. We want you to know that we are here for you, night or day, no matter your need, we are here to help live through your thoughts. We are your local, community-based crisis center, and we care.