When Frank first called us…

Story of Hope

When Frank (not his real name) first called us, he was contemplating suicide. “I am feeling alone, empty, weak, just tired of everything. I want to die,” he said. He had a plan to overdose with available medications, and had two back-up plans to ensure his intent.

Frank was recently unemployed, and his health insurance was about to run out. His wife was unemployed also. Without access to the medication that keeps his chronic illness in check, he would die. He called us at 5:30 a.m. and said that he planned to kill himself that night.

With effective listening and patience, our crisis counselor established a connection with Frank. Together, they explored his reasons for dying and for living and addressed his ambivalence that led to his call. Frank’s wife was deeply religious and he didn’t feel that he could share his suicidal thoughts with her. He had a couple of close friends, but was reticent to open up to them. He agreed to stay safe for the day while he took time to contact referrals we provided for job search assistance and health care insurance coverage. He also agreed to a follow-up call from the Crisis Center later that morning.

When we spoke to Frank again, he sounded better and said that he had taken steps to apply for jobs and unemployment benefi ts. At that time, we created a written safety plan with him. The plan gave him ideas of things he can do when he begins to feel suicidal to reduce his stress and despair and enhance his connections and reasons to live. We coached him on sharing his feelings with a close friend to decrease his isolation.

Over the next week, Frank experienced ups and downs as he took steps to find another job. We provided periodic follow-up calls and helped him problem-solve ways he could obtain his life sustaining medications. Frank became more hopeful as he engaged with resources and possible employment contacts. He said that the encouragement of the crisis line counselors helped strengthen his resolve to deal with his problems. Although he still struggled with thoughts of suicide, he now felt capable to resist these thoughts and confident that he could reach out to the Crisis Center when he needed reassurance and support. He added that he was “deeply grateful” for our help during his “dark times.”

Those dark times are likely to continue for Frank, at least for awhile. At the same time, they’re unlikely to last forever. By giving himself a chance to work through his problems, he’s giving himself a chance at life.