The Night Shift
Rye M., Overnight Counselor
Though we are here 24/7/365, the evening and overnight hours are when our crisis center receives some of our most serious calls. In this regular section, we hope to let Rye share with you some insights and some wisdom on what it's like to be a HQCC Counselor
After about 12 months, I reached a stage in my career(?) as a suicide counselor where suicidal intent was more obvious to me, that I could hear it in the way a person greeted me when I answered their call. But this knack is less impressive when I account for the house edge of being on the receiving end of a crisis line phone.
Out in the world, warning signs that someone is suicidal are intangible, abstract. The condition itself is intangible and is often concealed by those afflicted because we live in a culture that stigmatizes that invisible pain.
Sometimes, there are no warning signs, sometimes there is no definite way to intuit if someone is suicidal. All you can do is… know. All you can do is listen to instincts and funny feelings and express concern if you get any sense that something is wrong. And even with ears to the ground, there may never be a warning sign that someone is struggling.
The important thing to keep in mind is that if someone is suicidal, even if they never act on their thoughts, they are experiencing a state of mind that is intrinsically painful. Any indication or warning sign that someone may be suicidal is, at the least, an indication that they are hurting.
And the simplest thing we can do for someone who is hurting is also one of the kindest, that is to let them know, without judgment or condition, that we see their invisible pain.