Here is the pin I received when I completed my first 200 hours as proof!

Edit: Obligatory thanks for the gold and silver! I’ve never received gold before and I am truly honoured. 😍

Edit: Just realized I wrote r/ raindrops_oceantops instead of u/raindrops_oceantops and have now drawn attention to it making me a double goof. Please forgive me kind strangers. 🙃

Edit: Hey y’all, I’ve got work now but I promise to answer all your questions when I get back home!!

Edit: Thank you for all the other awesome awards I never even knew existed or thought I’d ever receive. I can’t believe how much attention this got! I’ll continue to respond to questions until this inevitably fades out. Thank you for all being so curious and kind, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first AMA!

Comments: 327 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

tjs65381 karma

2 questions 1) How long is a typical call? 2) Do you ever have repeat callers and/or are you ever curious about what happens to someone after they hang up?

raindrops_oceantops544 karma

  1. On average calls last roughly 20 minutes. Obviously some are quite a bit shorter and others are much longer.

  2. We have a number of repeat callers. Some are obvious because they tell the exact same story every time, others you can piece together based on how they’ve progressed. Many callers will ask for your name and say something along the lines of, “I think we’ve talked before, my name is _. Remember? I’m the one who _.” And if you remember them you can say so and if you don’t you can let them know it was probably someone else but you’d be happy to talk to them now anyway.

Other callers will let you know they call often and some we have to invite to call back in a few hours if they’re calling us multiple times in a short period. Obviously we want to be there to support the community but we don’t want them to become so reliant on us that they can’t function day to day without us.

Regardless, if we do recognize a caller we aren’t supposed to say anything unless they bring it up first since calls are meant to be anonymous. But there definitely are some I never hear from again that I do often wonder about!

Edit: I just remembered that there was a regular caller who I had talked to quite a few times who I suddenly stopped hearing from. It’s not that unusual, sometimes callers take a break, some callers only call at a specific day/time, some just decide they don’t want to talk to a woman. I’d say it’s probably been a couple months since I’d last heard from this caller but we recently found out he had a heart attack and passed away. I’m not sure if knowing or wondering is better. But in this case it was sad either way.

perma-depressed236 karma

Thank you for being there for so many!! I was wondering if you could share your most heartwarming/inspiring call?

raindrops_oceantops700 karma

I had a call not too long ago from a mom who had a young son with autism. She was talking about how much she loves him but that she was just feeling exhausted and worn down. She was crying on and off throughout our call discussing how she’s in the middle of a messy divorce case and adjusting to taking care of her son full time.

It was apparent to me that she loved her son more than anything else in the world but just needed to vent a little. At one point her son had come into the room and she immediately stopped crying and was fully present for him and his needs in that moment. It warmed my heart so much to hear and “see” what this mom was doing for her son who likely won’t appreciate or understand it until he is much older.

She went on to discuss how hard she’s been working to make sure he has a relationship with his father and that she still takes him to all his various appointments. We talked a lot about his safety and also discussed strategies for how she could simultaneously take care of herself so that she doesn’t get this far into a breakdown again.

She was so genuine and kind and truly just needed someone to hear her out. And at the end of the call she was honestly appreciative of me doing so.

perma-depressed95 karma

That’s so touching! Thank you for the response!!

raindrops_oceantops75 karma

Of course!!

throwaway10294772829204 karma

Hi! I often think about calling a line like this if I wake up in the middle of the night with a panic attack. I have a number of CBT (and prescribed medicinal) methods of calming myself down, but sometimes talking to someone new is the only thing that works.

A couple of quick questions: Do you get calls like this often? How do you deal with an individual who you can’t get to calm down - especially with how debilitating some of the psycho-somatic symptoms of panic can be? Is your line open 24/7, and if not can you recommend an appropriate crisis line?

Edit: forgot a word!

Thanks for all you do :)

raindrops_oceantops250 karma

Hey! Our line is 24/7 thankfully, and there are a number of other local lines that are too!

We get calls from those in the middle of a panic attack often so I would encourage you to call if you feel like it would help you! For me, I haven’t encountered a caller yet who wasn’t able to calm down while on the phone with me (not saying that I can help everyone I just haven’t had an instance of this yet).

I had a caller recently who said she was having a panic attack for the first time and it took quite a while for her to calm down. But I was able to stay on the line with her for the duration of her panic and talked to her for a few minutes afterwards as well. I think the main thing to remember in a panic attack is that you know it will pass because you’ve dealt with them before. I know firsthand that they can feel like the world is collapsing in, but trying to keep that in mind helps a little.

Each caller is different so even though we have tools in our mind for what might help, we always ask the caller what has worked for them in the past first! It sounds like you’ve done a great job at building up your resource tool belt and are able to manage your symptoms on your own most of the time. The crisis line is another tool you can turn to if you ever need it and as I said before, I’d encourage you to do so in the future. :)

tindV14 karma

Hey, we are the same person! Thank you for asking this question on behalf of us.

edit: also, if you have any tips on steps I should take to help get my anxiety under control, please let me know. I know everyone is different, but my symptoms have appeared recently so everything is new. Waiting on doc appointments which take so long to come around.

raindrops_oceantops5 karma

Hey!! Doctors appointments definitely take way too long, it can be debilitating waiting for them!

My best tip (albeit annoying, I know) is to just trial and error. Figure out whether it helps you during a panic to distract yourself, change your surrounding sensations, getting your thoughts out, moving your body, grounding your reality, etc. etc. There are so many different things. And then once you figure out which categories work best for you, find what activities you like under those categories (e.g. TV for distraction, hot shower for sensation, journaling for thoughts, running for exercise, breathing for grounding, etc.). It’ll take time but I promise it’s worth it! I wish you all the luck in the world while you wait. :)

InvaderCelestial112 karma

Thank you for the work you do! What is one hobby that helps you unwind from your day or week?

raindrops_oceantops125 karma

I really love reading! It helps me escape from my own reality for a while and get lost in something entirely new.

I also find exercising, journaling, and talking with my friends/family to be super beneficial to managing my more stressful moments. :)

MikeyLikeyIt109 karma

Hi! What nature are the majority of calls you take? Thanks for your work!

raindrops_oceantops266 karma

Hey! Of course they all vary but I’d say the underlying theme to 90% of the calls are loneliness and social isolation. Regardless of what the main issue is the caller wants to talk about, they are usually calling us because they feel they can’t talk about that issue with anyone else in their life. So even if they have an abundance of friends and family, they don’t feel close enough to disclose those particular thoughts or feelings.

Fuglypump105 karma

I've thought about making a call for this type of reason, but haven't because I convince myself that someone else might need the line more than I do.

raindrops_oceantops246 karma

We get that a lot!! It really breaks my heart in all honesty. I can’t count the number of times a caller has said something along the lines of, “this isn’t exactly a crisis”, “I’m not going to kill myself but if someone else is I don’t want to bother you”, “are there lots of other people trying to get through right now?”, “I know this isn’t a real problem”, etc. etc.

I think there are two big misconceptions when it comes to crisis lines. a) you can’t call unless you’re actively an imminent suicide risk, and b) if you do mention suicide we’re going to immediately send the police/ambulance to apprehend you. Both of which, are untrue.

I’d encourage you to call the next time you’re feeling lonely! That is exactly the kind of thing we are there for.

ranstopolis54 karma

So, what happens then? What do you talk about? How do you help them? Loneliness can dig a pretty deep hole, seems like a hard thing to address with a phone call.

raindrops_oceantops108 karma

You’re right, we can’t cure someone’s loneliness with one phone call or even multiple phone calls. We talk to them about whatever it is they want to get off their chest or share on that particular day. We try to brainstorm ideas with them on how they can cope with their loneliness in a way that seems fitting for them and encourage them to call us back if they need to.

mamallama1255 karma

Wow, thank you for these answers. These are all questions and concerns that I've had, and your answers are reassuring. The tone of your answers really let your heart show through. I can see why you do what you do--you are perfectly suited to it.

Thanks for this AMA!

raindrops_oceantops42 karma

Wow thank you so much! I’m glad to have helped! That really means a lot, truly. :)

OhBella_416 karma

We try to brainstorm ideas with them on how they can cope with their loneliness in a way that seems fitting for them and encourage them to call us back if they need to.

Thankyou for all you do!

Can you give examples of the ideas you brainstorm to help people cope with their loneliness? It can be hard to connect with people when they are low with actual practical assistance.

I would be very interested to understand the process of that brainstorming and how you draw people in a way that they feel comfortable to share.

raindrops_oceantops33 karma

Totally! It really depends on the person, we have some callers who are eager to try on their own and some who are stuck in their crisis and can’t see any way out of it. Some callers need distractors like reading, listening to music, watching TV, etc. Some need a hobby like painting, knitting, building, etc. Some need to a sensation change like a hot shower, an ice pack, a weighted blanket etc. Some need ways to meet more people like a church group, a spin class, an open mic etc. Some need a way to get their emotions out like journaling, calling a friend, writing letters etc. It could be literally so many things. Whatever works!

It’s all super dependent on the situation and what the person thinks they need. If they’re really stuck I’ll try to give them some of the suggestions above as feelers and try to have them come up with something similar that they think would work for them! And of course we always encourage them to call back if those things aren’t helping, if they need help thinking of more ideas, or if they just want to talk some more. :)

mamallama1218 karma

I totally feel this way, like, a crisis line isn't for people who are really lonely and sad but not suicidal. Is there a difference between a suicide hotline and a crisis hotline?

raindrops_oceantops29 karma

Honestly, not really. Of course when the 1800suicide line rings I always answer prepared for an imminent suicide call but it’s not always the case. A lot of people call that number because they’re familiar with it and not because they are thinking of suicide.

When our crisis line number rings I expect the unexpected, it could be anything under the sun. I’d encourage you to call either number, they are both there to help. :)

baileybriggs89 karma

Is a night like New Years Day usually hard to get through? I called a local line 1.5 hours ago and haven’t gotten a call back yet. I’m not as bad now, but still to panicky to sleep.

raindrops_oceantops75 karma

It all depends on the particular day, how many volunteers are working, and how many callers are trying to get through.

Unfortunately it’s all unpredictable and can’t be controlled or foreseen. I would suggest trying to find other local lines in your area. I know for me, we have at least 4 lines available for anyone and a couple more that are region specific that would probably take your call anyway.

KidUnidentifiable76 karma

How do you prevent yourself from becoming desensitized over time, especially when working out repetitive issues with callers?

raindrops_oceantops181 karma

That's a super interesting question! I'll be honest and say I haven't really thought about it before. The approach I take is, every caller is a new person who feels their problem completely and fully. If I find myself feeling like I am not 100% present I try to imagine it's someone I love and care about telling me these things.

When it comes down to it each person has the right to feel what they feel. They're calling into the crisis line and are choosing to talk to me about whatever is going on for them. I hold this responsibility in the highest regard and feel truly privileged that there are those who feel comfortable sharing their lives with me. I think if I ever realized that I was feeling desensitized or burnt out for longer than a few shifts I would need to seriously consider quitting or taking an extended leave.

The last thing I want is to rob someone of having a call with someone who can fully meet their needs when they're in a vulnerable place simply because I can't get past my own ego.

GumGuts69 karma

Has there ever been a phone call where you thought "I just fucked this one up?" I know it might be a difficult question, but your response really matters too me.

I was hanging around r/mentalillness, responding to the suicide posts, and I just couldn't do it after a while. Talking to someone you know you can't talk down and is imment danger became unimaginably painful. You just don't hear from them again.

Second, I've called a few hotlines myself, and they've started taking detailed information. What's your policy on wellness checks? When do you drop the hammer and call the police?

raindrops_oceantops93 karma

I’ve definitely had calls where I finished and thought, I should have handled that differently. I especially felt that way in the beginning when I was still learning, but it still happens once in a while these days. Luckily, people are calling into the crisis line because they want help (even if they say they don’t). So there haven’t been that many instances where I wasn’t able to help someone remain safe in that moment.

I have had to call the police a few times and it’s definitely hard not hearing from those callers again. I’ve been fortunate in that the few times I have called, almost all of the callers stayed on the line with me until help arrived. There was one who didn’t and one who hung up before I was able to send help. Those were especially difficult.

We only call the police when we feel someone is in imminent danger to themselves or others. And even at that, we still don’t call until we talk to a staff person. The hope is that the person who is in danger trusts us enough to give us that detailed information and that they’ll remain on the line with us. As stated above, things don’t always go that way but I’ve been lucky to say they normally have.

penkster63 karma

How do you keep a positive life view after constantly hearing people's tragic goings on?

raindrops_oceantops177 karma

The hardest days for me are when a) most of the calls don’t end up resolved by the time we disconnect or b) most of the callers seem angry or upset with how I’ve handled the call.

The main thing is remembering that how the caller responds to me has to do with them and what they are going through in that moment. I as one human being can only do so much and although I believe I am helping the majority of those who call in, they are ultimately responsible for their own life. And in turn, I am too.

I’ve had callers yell, scream, and call me names only for them to hang up and call back relieved that they are now talking to “a more competent volunteer”. When in fact, it’s still me they just don’t realize it. Those calls remind me that I have control over how I view an interaction or situation and can often change my view of the world based on how I choose to approach it.

Psychotisis66 karma

Oddly enough, I called a suicide line when I was drunk and depressed. The lady absolutely treated me as a "if you're not actively going to do it, please don't call"

raindrops_oceantops74 karma

I’m so sorry that’s the response you got. We are absolutely trained to not treat callers this way (at least at my office). The number of actively suicidal callers I’ve received is very, very low in comparison to the overall call volume I’ve had since I started. I hope you’ve had some more successful calls since then.

Daedalus42232 karma

This comment belongs in a special corner of /r stoicism. Lurker here, great job bringing someone like me out of the woodworks. We need more people able to handle a stressful job like this and sometimes, without realizing it, we have developed a powerful method that exists that some people are incapable of achieving. Take my upvote, stranger.

raindrops_oceantops15 karma

Haha I’m honoured, thank you!!

offermychester27 karma

Do you have any advice for someone who is being harassed by an ex girlfriend who is repeatedly threatening to hurt herself after he has tried to stop contact?

raindrops_oceantops52 karma

We get calls like that often, believe it or not. Unfortunately the crisis line is not in the business of giving advice. What we are there for is to discuss various options and considerations you may be thinking of.

I’ve been in a similar situation, not with an ex but with a family member who threatened suicide multiple times and never ended up going through with it. It was hurtful, heartbreaking, and gut wrenching every time it happened. I’m so sorry that you’re going through that right now, those situations can be unpredictable and scary.

iOmniscient18 karma

Been there twice, had to change my phone number.

raindrops_oceantops14 karma

Unfortunately it seems to be all too common. 😕

umbratigris26 karma

How do you cope with compassion fatigue and keep yourself from getting exhausted from the very emotionally intense nature of what you do?

What are some tips to take care of your mental health for folks who want to do a similar line of volunteering?

raindrops_oceantops37 karma

I’d say know your own personal limits, I’m lucky that although my regular job is in a similar field it is much less emotionally taxing and I actually get to have a lot of fun!

We are encouraged to take breaks as needed after intense calls and are only required to pick up 1 four hour shift a week. If we choose to do more, staff ensure to check in regularly. In addition, after our first 200 hours are completed we are able to go down to 1 shift every two weeks or even 1 shift a month.

When I have a particularly hard shift or if I’m having a hard day going into a shift, I ensure I have a talk with one of my friends to debrief. This either helps me a) leave my calls at the call centre, or b) leave my own problems outside the call centre. With that being said, self care is ongoing. If you’re looking to work in this field or anything similar I’d encourage you to find what works best for you! I have a number of things I do on a regular basis to ensure I am in my best mental state as much as possible. :)

lunaticneko19 karma

Do you need specific education or training to volunteer? Are there any prohibitions that prevent one from becoming a volunteer?

raindrops_oceantops25 karma

I can only speak for my centre, but there isn’t an education requirement and everyone has the same training regardless of background! The only prohibition is a criminal background check since we are working with a vulnerable population and confidential information.

At my centre you applied with your resume, had two references and an interview before you could go to training.

viktorir19 karma

What age are your callers typically?

raindrops_oceantops29 karma

Most of the time we don’t know! Sometimes you can guess given context clues, sometimes the caller will just tell you, and sometimes we’ll ask for it if they’re looking for a resource.

I feel confident in saying I have absolutely no idea what the average age a caller is haha.

viktorir9 karma

Thank you for the reply. Really interesting subject!

raindrops_oceantops6 karma

No worries!!

StardustNyako16 karma

Not sure if you can answer this but, is it normal to actually feel open to talk about my problems with anyone, at least online, like reveal super rough stuff to people out the gate? I do that and I'm always worried I'm too open.

raindrops_oceantops20 karma

I think it’s the same reason people feel comfortable sharing on the phone with us! A sense of anonymity can provide feelings of safety.

LeeGuitar16 karma

Do you ever get prank callers?

raindrops_oceantops30 karma

Not prank calls per se, but we do have callers who’s goal is to jerk off with a volunteer on the phone.

tempe199113 karma

Besides basic training you should get, do you have a background in psychology and dealing with the public in general? That should be a must. I had to use a crisis line and those people were not appropriate. Im lucky I didn't hang up and commit suicide. They were rude and just didn't act like they knew how to talk to people in any setting like they were still in high school.

raindrops_oceantops14 karma

That must’ve been so frustrating. I can’t speak for all of my colleagues, but I personally have a degree in psychology, additional relevant schooling, and a number of jobs that involved working with the public. It’s not a requirement but I think my background has helped me a lot and is one of the reasons I didn’t volunteer there earlier.

eugene203 karma

That sounds awful, can you remember what line it was?

tempe19917 karma

It was the main 1-800 suicide hotline.

raindrops_oceantops15 karma

That line gets bounced around to multiple crisis line centres (at least in my area), so it’s unlikely that if you called back you’d get out through to the same volunteer again. Definitely possible, but unlikely in my opinion.

I hope you’ve had better luck since then and have tried calling back! If not, I’d highly encourage you to do so as there are many of us out there who are doing this simply because we care.

Sarcasdik12 karma

As a police officer what’s the best strategy to help deal with people that you’ve found. We’ve often get calls transferred from crisis lines and we get some training but no where near enough to be able to deal any and all problems but we have to bc we’re the last resort. What advice could you give us to better help those in crisis?

raindrops_oceantops3 karma

Wow great question! I have honestly never thought of this. Mostly because we’re trained that ones imminent danger is established, we’re calling you and you are going to competently handle it from there!

I guess I would say the same thing I’ve been saying to others, take the time to listen to them and then ask them what it is they need to stay safe.

I’m sorry I couldn’t answer this any better, even though I know our emergency services aren’t trained enough to handle those with mental illness I’ve never thought that when I patch a call through they won’t know what to do. I’ll be thinking about this for a long time coming I’m sure.

Academic_Barracuda12 karma

What's the most interesting call you've received?

raindrops_oceantops43 karma

We get quite a few calls from those living with different forms of psychosis. Once safety is established we get to talk to them from their lens of reality, it can be really interesting. :)

Solodeji11 karma

You're indeed doing great work. Maybe I can learn from you, how long do you work per day?

raindrops_oceantops30 karma

I have a couple different paying jobs outside of this volunteer work and am going to school as well. So it really depends on the day.

These volunteer shifts are anywhere form 4-8 hours and are dependent on what you prefer!

Solodeji9 karma

Thanks for the response! I have grabbed what I needed to learn.

raindrops_oceantops7 karma

No worries!

Tuesday7911 karma

Thank you for the work you do! Here is my question: is it ever difficult to handle a call that hits too close to home? Like for example if you are a parent, would it be difficult to talk to someone who recently lost a child the same age as yours? I hope this question makes sense. Thanks for your time!!

raindrops_oceantops22 karma

Totally makes sense! I definitely have had callers with lives that mirror my own. I‘ve never had any where I felt like it was too hard for me to continue the call but I have gotten teary eyed a few times. We’re encouraged to take breaks and breathers as needed, so when I’ve had a call that I’ve really connected with in that way I’ll usually take a 5 minute break to collect myself before helping someone else!

tykez12310 karma

How did you get into this line of work?

raindrops_oceantops12 karma

Honestly I had been wanting to do it for years. I first heard about it in the beginning of 2014 but felt I was too inexperienced and uneducated to qualify or help in a meaningful way.

They train us well so I’m sure it would have been fine, even though I can acknowledge I’m in a way better place to be giving back now. I just decided it was time to do it so I applied!

aether2210 karma

What advice would you give for those needing to talk someone down, or be talked down?

Thanks to say?

Or just listen?

raindrops_oceantops4 karma

Sorry, I think I’m not quite understanding your question! You’re wondering what I’d do to talk someone down from what specifically?

aether228 karma

Well, I wasn't asking for specific, but general advice.

Basically how would you get someone to a better place, maybe there is no general answer, but I thought there might be some advice, or procedure.

raindrops_oceantops19 karma

Well, I’d say you’re right in that there really is no general answer. The main thing is truly listening to what the person is telling you and ensuring you understand where they’re coming from. Asking them what they need in that moment is really helpful because everyone handles a crisis differently. Hopefully that answers your question. :)

jonathanemptage9 karma

do you find more kids call now than when you started?

raindrops_oceantops9 karma

We do have teens calls us frequently. However, my area has a children’s line so I think most of them are calling there (hopefully).

4reddityo8 karma

What’s the hotline number?

raindrops_oceantops9 karma

There are multiple lines depending on where you live!

QCA_Tommy8 karma

Do you feel Pigeonholed into how you can respond? I went through training to do something just like this (although via text), and they told you effectively exactly how to respond, including what words to use.

raindrops_oceantops11 karma

Sometimes yes, most of the time no. Our office uses a broad model, although there are some words or phrases they suggest we use (such as when a boundary needs to be set or if we think someone is thinking of suicide, etc.), the model is mostly about listening and empathizing.

There are moments where a caller has thought I was simply reading from a written script which has never been the case. I think the hardest part is when a caller is going through something I’ve gone through and they feel truly alone in the situation. We’re never supposed to disclose personal information, so it’s hard in those moments to not say, “you’re not alone, I’ve been there too”.

necro_sodomi8 karma

Do you work from home and do you know if the crisis handlers are more men or women?

raindrops_oceantops15 karma

I work in an office space! I’m not sure the exact ratio of men to women, I’m guessing it’s not 50/50 but there are definitely a fair amount of each!

CheckMyFormBro8 karma

What advice would you give for someone who is supposed to start the training program soon?

raindrops_oceantops5 karma

Well the training all varies I’m sure! I would say in a broad sense, don’t be afraid to really go for it. Ask the questions you want to know, say the thing you think is right even if you’re not certain. Training is meant to be a time to figure out how to do what we do with the safety net of trainers. So even if you make a mistake, it’s better to do it then than with a caller on the line!

rebel_alliance057 karma

Do feel like there is a stigma amongst men calling? If there is What might be the primary factors that prevent men from calling.

raindrops_oceantops17 karma

Beforehand I would have guessed yes, just based on societal norms around men expressing their feelings. However, a lot of men do call us! I’d say it’s pretty close to 50/50. :)

Maybe they fee more comfortable expressing themselves anonymously than to their friends/family? I’m not 100% sure to be honest.

mackenzor7 karma

Have you ever had to use a crisis line, and if so what were your thoughts?

raindrops_oceantops20 karma

I’ve never called before but there have been multiple times in my life where I wish I had. I’ve been to a lot of dark places and have had multiple counsellors who encouraged me to call and even wrote it in my safety plan.

However, anxiety and unknowns stopped me from calling when I really needed it the most. Even though I am a volunteer now, if I ever reached that point again I would 100% call a different local crisis line for help.

Ruuprect7 karma

Which was the funniest thing happened to you. And were there any calls, which were absolutely stupid?

raindrops_oceantops21 karma

Not sure if it’s funny, but we have one guy who calls just to chat about his travels and his work as a ladyboy. He’s always funny and doesn’t seem to be in a crisis, just wants to share what he’s been up to. We keep his calls short but let him say his peace. He always seems to remember me even if it’s been months between calls, could be just saying that to everyone though haha.

The only stupid calls we get are the ones of those who are calling solely to jerk off. Men mostly, but a fair share of women as well. I’ll never understand it. Maybe it’s the thrill of doing something wrong or conning someone? I don’t know. But the calls never last more than a couple minutes and the majority of the time the volunteer isn’t saying anything. Not sure how that’s gunna get someone off but evidently they continue to try anyway. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Orphos267 karma

Hi there, thanks for what you're doing! My question is, what is the biggest thing you've learned from your job?

raindrops_oceantops10 karma

Probably how to set difficult boundaries with more comfortability. It’s never completely easy, but it is easier than it used to be!

Wrecker3000_6 karma

What is the craziest encounter you have ever had with a caller?

raindrops_oceantops36 karma

One time I had a caller talk about how he just moved here from another country and he was afraid of how ashamed his family would be for the way he’s been behaving. This story went on and on until he disclosed that he had roofied a woman. That of course, had gotten my attention and led to me attempt to assess risk.

He went on to tell me how he thinks about raping this woman which was really uncomfortable to listen to. It was one of my first calls and I didn’t know how to respond. By the time a staff member was called for help I realized he had been jerking off the whole time and was using the line to share his fantasies.

soupz5 karma

You mention that you weren’t experienced when this happened - would you have reacted differently now then you did back then? And if so how? What can you even do in such a situation? It sounds like an absolutely horrible situation to be in.

raindrops_oceantops3 karma

I probably would have used more silence in the call. Often it becomes apparent when you’re iffy on whether someone is jerking off or not because they generally don’t want you to be quiet. They’ll start saying, “hello? Hello? Are you there? Can you hear me?” almost immediately, which can be used as a context clue. They’ll also often get frustrated if you use minimum word answers and hang up on their own.

Reletr6 karma

Two questions

  1. Have you ever had to help someone emotionally deal with a problem that you've never heard before, and how did you handle it?

  2. Does this job affect your own mental health, and if so how do you manage yourself?

raindrops_oceantops9 karma

  1. Absolutely. Although I’ve had my share of hardships in life there are so many versions of human suffering that it would be impossible to expect one person who has felt them all.

Mostly it’s about understanding the feelings the person is having and I’ve found those very easy to empathize with regardless of the reason they’re there.

  1. I think if I had started this job a couple years earlier it would have deteriorated my own mental health in a very severe way (can’t give from an empty bucket and all that).

Fortunately I’m in a great place mentally and emotionally and have been for a long time now! The main thing is continuing to practice self care even when things are going well. For me personally, I’ve found exercising, reading, and being open and honest with my friends/family to be extremely beneficial. :)

m4uri6 karma

More lonely woman or men are calling?

raindrops_oceantops11 karma

Definitely a mix of both! I wouldn’t say definitively one or the other.

Razvee5 karma

How often do you end up calling emergency services for your clients? I'm a 911 operator and we actually only talk to crisis lines a few times a week I think.

raindrops_oceantops5 karma

I’d say that’s about on point! At our office, the calls that require intervention are at rates less than half a percent. Which was incredibly surprising to find out.

Obviously we have lots of callers that involve suicidal ideation, but very few who are actually at imminent risk right at that moment!

afloodbehind5 karma

I'm doing training for online crisis intervention right now - is there anything you think the training doesn't cover that I should know?

raindrops_oceantops6 karma

They’re all so varying! Simply the fact that yours is online and mine is over the phone makes the process incredibly different.

LeeGuitar5 karma

Do you ever get prank callers?

raindrops_oceantops6 karma

I personally haven’t, but we do have people who call while jerking off.

LeeGuitar3 karma

Thanks for the reply, Wow I guess some people are so lonely they need to jerk off to a voice on the phone. I would imagine most days at your job both very interesting and very upsetting. Keep up the good work!

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

Never know what to expect that’s for sure haha.

katyyo2 karma

What do you do in these situations? I assume you can’t just hang up?

raindrops_oceantops3 karma

Same as u/wikklesche said, we assess safety and then say something like, “we can’t meet your needs today” or “this is not what we’re here for” and then hang up. Some callers are more savvy and try to convince you to stay on the line by saying they have anxiety or are going to hurt themselves or something like that. But in all honesty, 90% of the callers make it very obvious that that’s what they’re doing. Most of those calls last 2 minutes at a maximum.

Golemfrost5 karma

I just wanted to pop in and say thank you for your service!
My Question would be: Have you ever taken a call that would suggest some kind of, let's say paranormal activity involved?

raindrops_oceantops7 karma

Actually I had a woman call just recently who told me she could connect with spirits! She mentioned a few people in her life as well as a friends loved one who communicated with her in various ways.


Good morning! Just wanted to thank you for the often thankless work that is oh so needed in today's world. I worked IT for a crisis center in my state. I'd hear some awful, awful stories from them. They'd sometimes bring people in for some kind of interview thing. I'll never forget going into the bathroom there one day and someone had written all over the bathroom walls with their blood

Any moments where you really feared for yourself, or for one of your coworkers?

raindrops_oceantops4 karma

That sounds intimidating for sure! Our office doesn’t bring callers into the building or disclose where we are located so nothing like that has happened, at least since I’ve been there. So I guess the answer is no. Our office does a great job at prioritizing our safety. :)

grandpa_joe_is_evil4 karma

What's one that keeps you up at night?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

If I have a really long day and not enough time to wind down before bed, I won’t sleep for hours!

stuckinjess4 karma

I have struggled with major depression for most of my life, including suicidal ideation. I have been close to calling in for help, but I’m nervous. How does a typical call go?

raindrops_oceantops3 karma

The honest answer is that you can’t guess how a typical call would go. The one thing I’ve learned is that when the phone rings, you never know what’s gunna be on the other side when you pick up. I would really encourage you to jump the gun and call them! You can disclose as much or as little as you’d like. You could even just saying, “I’m calling for the first time and am feeling nervous”. :)

Nevergivesup4 karma

What if I wantto request you as my crisis caller? 🤔

raindrops_oceantops16 karma

Unfortunately that’s not possible. We can’t transfer phone calls and won’t disclose what shift a person may or may not be working at any given time.

Lots of volunteers use an alias as well.

CathalMacSuibhne3 karma

Are there any useful insights you've gained about life or mental health that you've gleaned from this experience?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

I answered in some other responses but I think being able to set better boundaries has been helpful in my life outside of this work. And also realizing that I have the ability to change a lot in my life simply due to the way I perceive the situation.

dowhatitbe2 karma

I called a crisis line to ask how I could take care of my suicidal friend...I was at such a loss so I called but I kind of felt like I was wasting the volunteers time because I wasnt the suicidal one. :/ should I feel bad?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

No!! We get a lot of calls like this (at my centre) and encourage callers to do so. We try to assess safety as best as we can but obviously it would be better for that individual to call us too. Both people in this situation (you and your friend) are in need of support and I feel, have the right to ask for help.

jasmine27852 karma

How many trans people do you have? And do you know about trans lifeline in case your not sure how to handle a transgender person?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

As in callers? I myself have only dealt with a handful (excluding those who haven’t disclosed). I don’t think we have one in my area but now that you’ve brought it up I’m definitely interested in looking into it!

3099622152 karma

Are you not breaking the agency confidentiality agreement but posting this?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

No identifying information of callers or the inner workings of our specific centre have been provided. :)

standingpretty2 karma

Sorry if this was already asked, but how’d you get into crisis line work?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

It was relatively easy! I looked up one in my area, they had an application form online. I interviewed, got my criminal record check, and started training. :)

margster982 karma

How do you stay sane with such an emotionally demanding job?

raindrops_oceantops2 karma

Regular self care, taking breaks as needed, ensuring I don’t work too many hours too close together!