Her husband tried to hang himself…

Story of Hope

Her husband tried to hang himself three weeks earlier, the caller said, and she was planning to overdose on over-the-counter painkillers. Her husband was despondent because he’d been unemployed for several months, and income from her part-time job didn’t cover their monthly expenses. The couple couldn’t feed their three children, and were in danger of losing their home because they couldn’t pay the mortgage. She had trouble sleeping, had lost a lot of weight, and believed that the only way to end her pain was to kill herself. She was holding the painkillers when she called.

Our crisis counselor was able to talk her down, and get her to agree not to harm herself in the next few hours. Meanwhile, the counselor referred the woman, who was Spanish speaking, to several Spanish-language mental health services in her area.

Over the next 10 days, our Spanish-speaking staff followed up with her 13 times. Each time we assessed her risk of suicide, determined whether she had contacted the referrals we provided, and asked whether these referrals were useful. She reported that she felt her concerns weren’t being taken seriously by the referral agencies, which were overwhelmed, so we asked her for permission to advocate with them. She agreed.

Based on our advocacy, she got an appointment with a social worker and an assessment. As a result, she began receiving ongoing counseling with a psychologist. She also received help in completing applications for food stamps and Medi-Cal. On our final follow-up call to her, we confirmed that she was receiving these services and that her suicidal thoughts had subsided. We also learned that her husband had found part-time employment, which was providing enough income to cover the family’s expenses.

She thanked us profusely for the emotional support she received, for taking her concerns seriously, and for advocating on her behalf. The conversation ended with her saying that her will to live had been restored.