Content warning: mentions of suicidal ideation and suicide in discussion about crisis lines.
With the rise in mental health issues worldwide, crisis lines have been able to help many people cope with mental health struggles.
Counselors on crisis lines can help soothe callers before involving any emergency dispatches. Crisis lines can also cause people to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after a call.
This article will explore the benefits of crisis lines and if they are effective.
What are Crisis Lines?
Crisis lines provide short-term emotional support and intervention by phone, online, or text for people worldwide experiencing a mental health crisis. Crisis lines offer free and confidential counseling via telephone-based, web-based, or text conversation to anyone having mental health concerns, like suicidal ideation, for example. In addition, crisis line counselors can give emotional support to callers, analyze suicide risk, and refer callers to various resources like counseling, social services, and emergency services. Counselors on these lines can be professionals themselves or volunteers.
How Do Crisis Lines Work?
You can find your local or national crisis line via our Crisis Line resource tool at LGBTQ AND ALL. When you find your crisis line near you, a live, trained Crisis Counselor will receive your response on a secure platform and talk to you about any mental health concerns. These counselors will use skills like empathetic listening. Then, once they’ve fostered rapport and trust, explored the relevant issues, and established a goal, they will work with the person directly to problem-solve to help the person come up with a safety plan.
Everything that you talk about with a crisis counselor will remain confidential. The only exception is if it needs to be shared with emergency services for the person’s safety, but confidentiality is taken very seriously at these crisis lines.
What are the Benefits of Crisis Lines?
- They are always there for you. You can call crisis lines whenever and as many times as you want. Their services are always available.
- They can be the first step toward the healing process. It can be challenging to cope with trauma, but speaking to a crisis counselor can be the first step in an important journey. ,
- They can offer an immediate sense of relief. If you need to talk to someone immediately, then crisis lines can offer immediate relief. Even if you are no longer in therapy, but a situation triggers you, a crisis line can help instantly.
- They can help you cope with traumatic or stressful events. A call to any crisis helpline, like the one we offer at LGBTQ AND ALL, can help you deal with any traumatic anniversaries or stressful events that come up in your life.
Are Crisis Lines Effective?
There is a bit of evidence that suggests crisis lines minimize suicide risk and depressive symptoms among callers. However, there needs t be more evidence to determine the long-term effects of crisis lines.
Here is some of the research that has been determined thus far:
According to assessments of crisis hotlines in the United States and the United, callers have experienced reductions in suicidal thoughts, self-harm ideation, distress, and hopelessness when their call ends. In addition, a Denmark-based study found that helpline text counseling services for children at risk of suicide minimized distress. However, in this case, it was on a short-term basis.
An evaluation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) found that follow-up calls could reduce the risk of any future suicide attempts. In addition, a Colorado-based pilot study determined that crisis hotline follow-up calls for discharged suicidal emergency department patients can offer continued support and connection to outpatient care.
So, what else can make crisis lines more effective? According to researchers, counselor training, integration with health care systems, targeted services for vulnerable populations (like LGBTQ+ people), and creating protocols for call monitoring and suicide risk screening will further increase the effectiveness of crisis lines. For example, callers with suicidal ideation who talk to counselors with suicide intervention training will have a better chance of minimization in suicide risk and depression over a call than callers who discuss their issues with counselors who don’t have the same training. In addition, a Canada-based study concluded that counselors with more experience, regardless of volunteer or paid status, will reduce suicide risk among callers more than counselors who don’t have the same level of expertise.
According to a survey of the NSPL, 50% of those who call a crisis hotline and are referred to mental health services will actually access those resources services. In addition, an analysis of Crisis Text Line, a national text-based crisis service, determined that rural counties have lower rates of service use than urban counties, even though suicide risk in rural counties is higher.
Knowing if it’s an Emergency
If you aren’t sure whether you are in an emergency, here are some indicators:
- Suicidal ideation where you are thinking about ending your life or you have attempted to end your life
- Experiencing things that aren’t real and any beliefs that seem like they can’t be true
- Making dangerous choices
- Not being able to care for yourself.
- Experiencing severe side effects from medications
- Going through an alcohol or drug overdose
- Taking a combination of dangerous substances
If you find yourself in an emergency, you can:
- Call 911 for help immediately.
- Go to the local emergency room.
- Call a suicide-specific crisis line.
Crisis lines are excellent resources that serve anyone going through any crisis. They offer access to free mental health support, 24/7, on various types of mediums that people already use comfortably in their daily lives.
If you want to access a crisis line and don’t know where to start, our extensive helplines and lifelines resource at LGBTQ AND ALL can put you in touch with a crisis line near your location. These resources can help anyone in immediate danger so that you can get help immediately.