Suicide help lines
In 723 of 1,431 calls, for example, the helper never got around to asking whether the caller was feeling suicidal. And
when suicidal thoughts were identified, the helpers asked about
available means less than half the time. There were more egregious
lapses, too: in 72 cases a caller was actually put on hold until he or
she hung up. Seventy-six times the helper screamed at, or was rude to,
the caller. Four were told they might as well kill themselves.
There were 33 evident on-line suicide attempts, yet only six rescue
efforts, sometimes because the caller ended the communication. In one
case, a caller who’d overdosed passed out, yet the helper hung up.
Here is the full story, by Christopher Shea. I am curious how much of this problem is due to the non-profit structure of the institutions running the lines and how much is due to the behavioral quirks of human beings faced with the suicidal tendencies of others…
From the comments: "Also, how would a for-profit suicide hotline work? Call a 900 number if
you’re having suicidal thoughts? I find it hard to imagine that a
for-profit suicide hotline system would generate *more* suicide
prevention, though maybe I’m wrong."