She had a history of anxiety and depression…

Story of Hope

She had a history of anxiety and depression, which was exacerbated by the recent death of her father. She hadn’t been told that her father was ill, and his death was a shock to her. The caller was a highly-educated, 36-year-old Spanish-speaking woman. She said that feelings of anger and resentment muddied her ability to grieve. A history of mental health issues and a gambling addiction compounded her experiences of sexual abuse as a child within the family home. She said she felt abandoned by her mother, who sent her to live with grandparents when she was a child.

As a teenager, the caller attempted suicide by overdosing. Since then she had intentionally misused prescription medication each evening in an attempt to force herself to sleep and avoid thinking about her life. On top of everything else, she felt tremendous stress because of frequent layoffs at her place of employment. At the time of her fi rst call, she said that much of her day was spent asking herself the question, “How am I going to kill myself?” She talked about her stash of pills, as well as the loaded gun she kept in the nightstand next to her bed. The woman said that her father taught her how to load and shoot a gun, and that this made her feel powerful.

Our crisis counselor explored with her this feeling of power and why it was important to her. Together, they developed a plan to keep her safe and alive. While on the phone with the counselor, the woman unloaded the gun and arranged to give it to a friend who would keep it locked up at his house. Then she counted out the number of pills she needed for a period of two weeks, locked the remaining pills in a strong box, and said she would gave the key to the same trusted friend. He agreed to visit every other week so that she could count out a new, two-week supply.

In the course of follow-up calls we made to her, the woman reported that the safety plan was working and she no longer felt at risk. She expressed gratitude for the support and perseverance of our follow-up calls, and said that she would begin seeing a professional therapist in order to further her understanding of her responses to stress and grief.