Instead of killing myself, I called a suicide hotline
WARNING: This video contains language about suicide
When author Joel L. Daniels experienced suicidal thoughts on a bus in the Bronx, New York, he wasn't sure what he should do. He was panicking, but he decided to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Now, he says that phone call saved his life.
Read More: Instead of Killing Myself, I Called A Suicide Hotline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the US.
After dialing the number, callers will hear an automated message. The Lifeline is able to answer 85% of calls within 30 seconds after the greeting, and 97% within 75 seconds or less. After the short wait, a trained counselor picks up. They are able to connect to translators in over 150 languages and calls can be as short or as long as the caller wants.
If a caller is in suicidal crisis, counselors will work with them to come up with a safety plan which helps them identify strategies to stay safe, people they can talk to, and resources they can use when they need help.
You don't have to be in a dire situation to call the lifeline, you can call just to receive emotional support. You can also call if they're concerned about someone you know. The calls are anonymous and never scripted.
Though it happens in less than 3% of calls, sometimes emergency services do have to intervene, but it's usually with the collaboration of the individual. In an even smaller percentage of cases, crisis workers may have to break confidentiality in order to save someone's life.
If you or a someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or suicidal crisis, check out the resources below:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans, press 1) for 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress and suicidal in the US
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 anonymous crisis support in the US
- The Trevor Project: Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 to reach the TrevorLifeline available 24/7 or text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200 to reach TrevorText available M-F from 3 p.m. - 1 p.m.
- SAMHSA National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP(4357) for 24/7 free and confidential treatment referral and information
- RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 1-800-656-HOPE(4673), to speak to your local sexual assault service provider
- 7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors
Joel L. Daniels: I don't use that phrase like it saved my life, um gingerly, but I mean that suicide hotline phone call, it saved my life.
The story actually begins prior to me calling the hotline. We use the word crazy loosely a lot of the times. But I think the best way to describe the feeling I was having at the time was crazy. I was by myself, I was actually on my way to pick up my daughter at the time from daycare. Feeling crazy, feeling like I wanted to take my clothes off. Like I wanted to jump off the bus. I wanted to harm myself. I can't call the suicide hotline on the bus right now because that's going to look really crazy.
Um, so the best thing to do would be to, I had known that New York has like, I forget what the number is where essentially you can have a text conversation, to help you through the process if you feel like you're going to harm yourself. It was like I'm trying to text, I text the message, it takes like a minute to get back and it's like what is your problem. And it was like okay, I'm gonna text you robot person on the other side what my problem is.
So I'm looking, okay, I don't know what to do, I'm panicking. I'm like, okay, do I run across the street? Because at this point I, I'm trying to figure out either do I hurt myself or not hurt myself, like one or two. Um, and I'm like, okay, well I need, I need, I need to do something. So I called, I called the suicide hotline, and when I called there wasn't a wait time.
Um, we'll say maybe like 15 seconds if that, and I can't remember the exact, like how the phone call began essentially, but I remember the feeling of the phone call and I remember being affirmed, um, because I just felt overwhelmed and busy between work, between life, between fatherhood, between not really knowing what I was doing and in that moment it felt like it was going to be easier to not be here. Um, and to essentially try to end my life and to have a person kind of listened to the stress of the moment and say, it is okay. You're okay. Wow, this must be really hard for you. The situation is really difficult. Um, you're doing a fantastic job though based on what you're telling me.
Listening without judgement, without bias, without prejudice. That suicide hotline phone calls saved my life and I wish I could remember the sister's name, who I spoke to because she was so warm. She was so loving. She was so comforting. She sounded like a black auntie. Warm. Warmth was the word. There were no identifying questions at all, she doesn't know my name, she didn't know where I was located, the conversation was directly related to what I was going through at that present moment. And those feelings, she didn't, she didn't ask me anything else, like where are you or, you know, none of that. Part of what she was doing was just allowing me to space really to vent. It was less questions and more affirming. It was just something I needed and I don't know if anybody else does because there's that level of shame you feel essentially when you're trying to tell a person that you care about that I essentially want to harm myself because then it's very easy, unfortunately, for people who do know you to start blaming themselves.
I think sometimes there's this, there's a fear, right? Like, okay, do I, do I make this phone call? Am I essentially going to look crazy? Is it crazy? Does it even work? Um, and granted I, I, I'm very much the person that doesn't believe in absolutes. So not everything works for everybody. Sometimes. Maybe it's not the hotline. Maybe it's a relative, it's a friend. It's someone you know you can call who's going to essentially be able to give you that space and the freedom and that room to give of yourself without, without concern of bias and prejudice or judgment. But the suicide hotline did that for me for sure. It's easy to kind of stigmatize how a person looks, um, who might be suffering from some level of like a mental health disorder, a person who may be depressed, person who may have had suicidal ideation, suicidal ideation or person who might be a cutter or whatever the case may be. Um, I don't look like the stereotypical person who's been suffering from that. And it's like I'm also going through this and processing this. I know you probably are too, and you don't know, you don't have the language to do it. Um, I've kinda been blessed and fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to have the language and have the space to do that. I feel like it's kind of my duty to kind of share that with other people.If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.