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Have you called a suicide hotline? What was your experience?

by SP Administrator

I’d love to hear some real life experiences from folks who’ve called suicide hotlines…

How do they start off the conversation?

How do they continue it or keep you engaged (if they do)?

Have you ever called for a friend, and if so, what was that like?

This is mainly to get a quick sample of how people perceive them and whether they are seen as helpful, or not of much help….

Thanks for anything you may want to share.


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MattCSidd 2/21/2015 - 4:33 pm

I called one run by student volunteers at my uni, the girl on the phone was nice enough, said she just wanted to listen. She never even asked me my name, or gave hers, she just asked me to let her know what was going on. I wasn’t actually planning on doing anything I just needed someone to speak to.
I’m sure I read somewhere that suicide hotlines aren’t as effective as you’d think though.

bones_654 2/21/2015 - 6:03 pm

I called Samaritans once, the guy wasn’t helpful, actually he left me thinking I should just get on with killing myself n not speak to anyone before hand, y I am still here I don’t know, such a pointless effort this life actually is

depressednihilist95 2/23/2015 - 2:28 pm

I’ve had experiences like that at psychiatric places.

killswitchon 2/21/2015 - 4:47 pm

i called a couple times… they can be comforting.. this year when i called it was awkward and forced. its super hard for me to open up voice to voice or face to face… internet not so much but still tough… i find it incredibly hard to talk to a stranger about personal shit. u cud find it helpful though.

killswitchon 2/21/2015 - 4:47 pm

i called a couple times… they can be comforting.. this year when i called it was awkward and forced. its super hard for me to open up voice to voice or face to face… internet not so much but still tough… i find it incredibly hard to talk to a stranger about personal shit. u cud find it helpful though.

Randall 2/21/2015 - 5:49 pm

I used to volunteer on the hotline for Samaritans. The 28 day (I think it was 28 days) was one of the best training classes I’ve ever gone to. They teach you to listen and ask open ended questions. You practice on each other before you go to a real live call. When they think you’re ready there is always a trainer sitting with you for your first calls until he feels you’re ok to be on your own. At the beginning of the call I would ask if the caller wanted to share his/her name. Some do, some don’t and some give alias. A lot of people call then hang up. Most callers want to vent, so we’d sit, listen and take detailed notes on what was being said. The purpose of taking notes is to keep you really involved with the caller and also so you can refer back to something that was said. I used to get 20 – 30 calls in a four hour shift and there was maybe a 6 to 8 people on the phones. That’s a ton of calls and we couldn’t get to all of them. We’d try to limit each caller to 10 minutes. Some callers would get pissed when you try to tell them I have to go now because other people are calling in. I used to stretch the 10 minute limit to 20 to 30 minutes if the caller really needed to finish what he/she was talking about. There were a ton of repeat callers. They would call each night and repeat the same story over and over. Ya try to be kind, patient, compassionate and it’s hard. Some of the callers get “attached” to a certain volunteer. I used to go home in tears and unable to sleep cause of the some of the stories. The calls are totally anonymous and there’s no way to dial 69 to redial and recall the caller or call the police if someone had taken pills. You can ask the caller if they want you to call an ambulance or call for help. If they say NO, there’s nothing you can do. Many times they just hang up and you’re left wanting to help, but there’s no way. I could tell stories of some callers. Makes me cringe now just thinking about them. I had to quit volunteering because it got to me…sleepless nights…taking 20-30 crying voices home. So, that’s the other side when you call a hotline.

cryingflying 2/21/2015 - 7:16 pm

Never have

cryingflying 2/21/2015 - 7:20 pm

cause I’m what suicidal

cryingflying 2/21/2015 - 7:24 pm

SP Administrator you call anybody.? If you want to kill yourself why call it. If you need a ear call it makes sence

Koji 2/21/2015 - 9:40 pm

I have never called a suicide hotline nor sought help in anyway to combat my depression and suicidal ideations.

I suppose I was the only one who could help myself overcome this obstacle in my life.

This_iz_me 2/22/2015 - 12:53 am

I have always too… But I feel like they won’t be helpful. I almost called tonight, but I logged on here instead.

Ryder 2/22/2015 - 10:35 am

I’ve never called a hotline, and it’s because I don’t think they can truly help. I can talk, mope, and vent to a brick wall about why life sucks and nothing will change. Hell what difference will talking to a stranger make? If someone really wants to die and is sure of himself why would he call?

On the other hand, a lot of people are just stuck and can’t move forward for some reason. They really want to live but don’t exactly know how to fix or cope with their problems. There are also people who just really want to die but don’t have the guts or the will…yet. We’re the ones who I think can be convinced and given hope to live. The people running the hotline do it because they want to give hope. Particularly, those who want it.

It’s just a job. Like McDonald’s, but instead of $1 burgers they’re giving out free hope. ‘Here’s your hope sir, have a nice day!’

I just ask myself why call… If I did call, for an hour it might be sunny, but then the next hour it’ll be cloudy, and finally the rain will come back again. What is the point…

SiLlYrAbBit 2/22/2015 - 12:37 pm

i have called the national suicide hotline (US) maybe 5 times in about the last two years since my dad died and i get re-directed to my “local” center (about 80 miles and in a tiny town from where i live). TOTALLY USELESS! they offer to call back, but then NEVER have. always makes me think the “call back” part is just to see if i am dead or not. Last week when i called, she spent maybe 3 minutes on the phone, (and i was calling in the middle of the day when i thought it wouldnt be so busy?) then offered to have CIT (crisis intervention team) (local) police officers come talk to me. This means TWO marked police cars show up, they come in and talk, but i really didnt want the humiliation of having the police at my house and the neighbors outside or glued to the windows to “see what was going on”. Then, next day…and for the following 30 days….the police reports are public and posted online….so anyone who wanted could see WHY they were at my house. And no, the report doesnt use just the police code….it spells it all out: suicide attempt or mental health visit, etc. ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS TALK, NOT TELL MY BUSINESS TO MY NEIGHBORHOOD…..AGAIN!! the other hotlines i feel are geared towards young people….who do need help. but so do i….and i feel i have nowhere or no one and i hope soon i can do it. sorry i unloaded. i just am so disgusted. i really dont think anyone cares.

jizmhead 2/22/2015 - 1:48 pm

They don’t help shit!!! They mislead you into saying something to allow the cops to come! Great if you want to murder some pigs but otherwise you’ll probably end up in the but house. Just pull the trigger and quit fucking around!!!

Unwichtig 2/22/2015 - 2:25 pm

im depressed for years now and was very suicidal the last year. After trying alot i dont think there is a real help! but alot of these “helper” told me its me and i should just get help and call that line. I hate calling, so i tried their online chat programm. The appointment was in 4days. So if you really want fast help, better not wait for the chat. I was pretty bad and when i waited there the guy was a little late. Maybe only 10min. But if you only have 45min talktime it matters. Anyway, i was afraid because hes religious, but that was never a thing in the full conversaton. Ofc he was nice, didnt force me to something. But quite annoying. His typing and reading skills where to slow for me and so the conversation took toolong. In the end these things are only good if you want to have someone to listen and tell you in the end it will get better, just keep going. Or if you have fixable problems. He gave me a hint that i should google for groups and organisations in my area, what was pretty annoying, because he was from my area and could have had them at hand… but ok. In the end it led me to a women organisation. Showing up there took alooot courage and i nearly didnt make it. But yeah sitting there and she listend where good. She gave me some numbers to call and told me what kind of therapies, like hospital for long term or just a daystay are possible. But told me she would never force me to go there everything is my decision. In the end that whole thing didnt help ether, because i never found the motivation to call any of the doctors from her list. But thats part of my illness and suffering.

Randall 2/22/2015 - 3:17 pm

You don’t really believe talking to anyone for 10 – 20 minutes is going to solve the problems YOU’VE been making for yourself your whole life?? Get real! A shrink will charge you 150/hour for 20 years and not get to the root of your problem. Unless his name is Jesus H. Christ or Mr. Buddha a hotline call is not your answer, will not fix you. However, when things come to a head, when you’ve got a fist full of pills, when you’re standing on a bridge, when not a soul will listen and you just want someone to talk to…anyone!!. What’s that song, Sometimes we need a stranger to talk to. It’s just someone to talk to in those deep dark moments. The only one that can “fix” you, is you. Period.

L4Y 2/22/2015 - 6:02 pm

I have never called a suicide helpline, but was close to volunteering for one late last year (the only thing that prevented me from doing so was that there were no such opportunities available in my city). I’m still hoping to find a way to do so one day, as I would very much like to find out if I am capable of helping others to any great degree.

With that said, however, I do agree with the sentiment that, at the end of the day, the only one who can truly help you is you.


Silverbird 2/22/2015 - 7:20 pm

I did once, a couple of times actually, only for a close friend at the time…
Didn’t really want to, but I did anyways, you know…

Anyways, it either rang out on me, or i got on hold endlessly with an automated voice or something, i forget, but nobody picked up on the other end 😛 I was semi-relieved…
Just don’t be surprised if nobody answers xD people can’t always be around to listen to shit haha

Sabi 2/23/2015 - 11:34 am

I think that suicide lines have their best chance of working for suicidal teens, and even then I’m not certain it will be lastingly effective. To use a tired analogy, they’re like a band-aid. They’ll help with a pinprick that happens to draw blood, but don’t expect them to cover gaping wounds. For some people (especially if the person is older than a teen), they may even do harm.

Without getting too specific, for people of any age it’s more likely for suicide lines to be useful if the person is going through a single, discrete instance of emotional trauma. If the trauma is related to a life situation that is ongoing or serial in nature, if the person isn’t even sure why they feel that way, or if the person feels “judged” by society (more common in adults but can also be true for severely bullied kids!), suicide lines are not likely going to be enough, imho.

One major reason for this is that you get a different person every time you call. So unless it’s a done deal after one call, not only do you have to start over in order to get them up to speed– unduly exhausting for someone already exhausted with life– but you have no guarantee that the person you get each time is going to be a good match of person to speak to you.

Getting a good or “bad” (none will will truly be “bad,” since they all mean well, but you know what I mean) match can be a big deal too. Sadly, the factors that increase the likelihood of someone being a good match to talk to are the very same factors that decrease the likelihood of a person being in the position of needing to call a help line at all. In most mainstream literature from mental health organizations and self-help materials alike, you will see– at best– a passing mention that people of all ages and incomes can face these problems. This is true. But it’s also true that you’re far, far more likely to face such troubles, the poorer, the older, and the more socially isolated you are. If you come from a different culture than the mainstream one where you’re living, you’re apt to face barriers where people can’t/don’t want to relate to you (or validate your lived experience) as well. As a result of giving the impression that everybody is “equally” affected by these problems, the most vulnerable individuals aren’t targeted with the kind of care they actually need, but with a generic sort of “one size fits all” version.

All of that said, one good thing suicide lines have going is that their staff always know not to condemn suicidal people, or try to guilt them into living for other people’s sake instead of finding their own reason to live. That alone is a reason I still might recommend them over talking to one’s own family/friends, unless the person happen to know already exactly the kind of care they *deserve* to receive, AND have a family/friends who are uncommonly empathetic and non-judgmental. (And again, such a person isn’t as likely to be suicidal anyway.) For a lot of people, it might be the first time they encounter someone who doesn’t guilt them for daring not to be overjoyed to be alive.

Sabi 2/23/2015 - 11:36 am

(I am speaking as someone who tried calling suicide lines 2-3 times when I was at my most suicidal, about 1.5 years ago. I was going to speak personally about it, but I figured it probably wouldn’t help anyone so I spoke more generally instead.)

russo 2/23/2015 - 12:58 pm

I have never contacted a suicide hotline out of fear of persecution in terms of being involuntarily sent to a psychiatric hospital – that and I also have social anxiety. I think another thing that makes suicide hotlines incompatible with people is as people have stated: the arbitrary nature of it, but also the pressure I would imagine that comes with talking to another person verbally. Perhaps I’m biased out of social anxiety, but the entire time I would be afraid of details: am I revealing too much? Am I articulating it in a way that the other person is able to interpret and understand correctly? Personally I think the concept of a suicide hotline is too impersonal to be effective, but like others have said, yeah, it’s mostly beneficial to those that have gone on a bender for a little bit

depressednihilist95 2/23/2015 - 2:19 pm

I never contacted a suicide hotline either, mainly because I don’t think words could fix my problems. Some people may be more scared of living than dying, so they skip the hotlines. More social people also probably call the hotlines more, whereas loners are probably more likely to be sent to mental institutions. Then again, I think extraverts are less likely to be depressed in general.

deathisbliss 2/23/2015 - 3:26 pm

I hate hotlines….not because they try….but because they fail…

I have a BS in psychology not a masters not a doctorate.

But even I can do a humanist reflection method….I used it SO many times dealing with tax and other BS…

People that far down just want to be listened to….to be loved….

They want to matter.


They just don’t train their people….sad….

I will listen, I will understand….I offer truth….and I might be to linked to others…..to empathic….too caring….

I feel all that happens I suffer in it….but I mask it….

Buddy 7/21/2015 - 9:42 am

I called a private organization & they helped me a bit. By the way this is the admin of this site. And also first post of this member was in August 7, 2004. That’s the 1st post of this website. Thank you Admin SP.

Emotionlessshadow 6/23/2018 - 2:17 am

I called once after I had been fired from my first job. When the lady picked I was sobbing and trying to talk to her but she barely said anything back and when she did she sound bored and disinterested. It was so offputting that I just start to cry more I told her I was sorry for call me ng and hung up. Overall the call just ended up making me feel worse.

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