Suicide hotlines don’t help (seeking alternatives)

In this article, we will focus on what can be done when suicide hotlines don’t help, identifying the symptoms of suicide so that you can seek help for yourself or help your loved ones.

Suicide refers to the act of ending one’s own life as one is unable to continue with life anymore. According to many studies suicide is one of the leading causes of death among individuals with close to 800,000 individuals ending their own life every year. But these are the individuals who were successful in their suicide attempt, there is even a bigger percentage of humans who attempt suicide every year. 

Seeing these statics and the increase of suicide cases each year, many government agencies and private organizations have started with suicide hotlines, where individuals can call and talk about their feelings and wish to commit suicide and seek help from the caller. It aimed to provide a source of relief and comfort to the suicide attempter, where they could talk about their thoughts and not go ahead with suicide.

Suicide hotlines don’t help

Despite numerous suicide helplines being there for individuals provided by government agencies and private organizations, there is a disconnect between suicide attempters and suicide helplines. These problems have been faced by individuals all over the world who have tried calling suicide hotlines number for help. Here are some of the reported problems faced by individuals when they tried contacting suicide hotlines for help:

  • No answer
  • Number being disconnected
  • Busy tone all the time
  • Rude interactions with hotline helpers
  • No help provided because didn’t make it to the high priority list
  • Timings of the hotlines

No answer

Many individuals have reported that when they have called suicide hotlines no one answers the call. The phone keeps ringing no matter what time of the day it is and no one picks up the phone. In cases where suicide hotlines do not pick up the phone, the caller feels more defeated and alone. They feel like the last ray of hope they had is also not there to help them. Hearing the phone ring and praying for just someone to pick it up is what most of the individuals who are on the verge of committing suicide feel. They feel that suicide hotlines don’t help as they are not there when the person is in their most vulnerable hour. 

Number being disconnected

More disappointing that someone not picking up the phone is seeing that the number is disconnected or no longer available. Numerous individuals have reported that many numbers given by charity organizations don’t work or are no longer in service. Realizing that the last hope you had is not even there can feel very depressing for a person about to attempt suicide. 

Busy tone all the time

Suicide hotlines don’t help because they are not available only to help. Many individuals have reported hearing a busy tone no matter when they call for help. This can be very disheartening and sad for the person, especially someone who is about to take their own life. They understand that there are others out there too who need help, so do they. 

Rude interactions with hotline helpers

Many individuals reported that the hotline helpers were rude to them and seemed distant. It is understandable that hotline helpers have a lot of work on their hands but for the caller, it is their life or death they are talking about. The reason for their call is to look for a ray of hope, which is not met. 

No help provided because didn’t make it to the high priority list

Individuals have also stated that suicide hotlines don’t help those individuals who do not make the priority list. Example those individuals who do not have a fixed suicide date or method. Just because the person has not planned it doesn’t mean that they are not seriously thinking about it. 

Timings of the hotlines

Most of the hotlines provide help from a limited time frame in the morning. But suicidal thoughts have been reported to be more during the night. Individuals feel more depressed and lonely at night and do not have anyone they can reach out to. There is a requirement for more hotlines that are available 24*7. 

Why Suicide hotlines don’t help

This article is in no way stating that all hotlines have the same story and are not helping hundreds of individuals every day. The problem arises when there are too many people in need to help but a very small limited number of people who are trained to help them. The disparity between the number of people on the verge of committing suicide and professionals who can help these individuals is very wide. According to studies for every 1000 people, there is just 1 mental health professional. 

There is not a lot of funding also at times to enable the hotlines to hire the manpower required for the number of calls received every day. Mental health is still gaining awareness and organizations are recognizing the importance of mental health professionals but it is still slow in comparison to the amount of increase in problems faced by every individual. 

Understanding the warning signs of suicidal tendencies

Individuals who attempt to commit suicide are not looking to die, instead, they see it as a method to release the pain and suffering they feel inside. In case you see the following signs in anyone you know or in yourself, do not ignore them or dismiss them. Seek help or provide the help that is required by you or to that individual. The following are warning signs of suicidal tendencies:

  • Tends to focus on the topic of death
  • Has a plan and is making arrangements to commit suicide
  • Saying goodbye and being withdrawn from loved ones
  • Seems hopeless and pessimistic
  • Unusual sleep patterns can be observed
  • Change in mood patterns
  • Increased intake of drugs or alcohol
  • Increase in reckless behavior

Tends to focus on the topic of death

Individuals who are suicidal in nature tend to be focused on concepts of death and talk about death more frequently. They might be talking about the afterlife or what it feels like in the last moments of death. 

Has a plan and is making arrangements to commit suicide

Individuals who have thought of suicide are likely to make arrangements and plans on how they are going to commit suicide. This includes getting supplies for suicide like guns, ropes, or pills. They get their things in order and at times even have a date planned when they would be able to carry out their attempt to suicide, for example, a day or time when no one would be home. 

Saying goodbye and being withdrawn from loved ones

A person who is about to commit suicide may say their goodbyes to their loved ones. They might not be very direct in their conversation but tend to thank the person and let them know how important they were to them. Sometimes they write goodbye letters to their loved ones. 

Seems hopeless and pessimistic

A person who is going or thinking about commuting suicide will be more hopeless about their current situation and their future ahead. They will believe that nothing good is going to happen to them and no matter what their situation is not going to improve. 

Unusual sleep patterns can be observed

The person is more likely to sleep all day or lay in bed the whole day. They do not perform any activities or do their chores. They sleep at odd hours, generally the whole morning and stay up at night. 

Change in mood patterns

They will have mood swings where one minute they are happy and cheerful and the next minute they might get angry and shout at the other person. They might then calm down again quickly and pretend as nothing happened. 

Increased intake of drugs or alcohol

A person about to commit suicide may increase their intake of drugs and alcohol. They might seem more into drugs than before as they might be needing the help of drugs and alcohol to go through with their plan to commit suicide. 

Increase in reckless behavior

An individual will act more reckless and engage in reckless behavior like rash driving or engage in more casual sex. 

Seeking alternatives when suicide hotlines don’t help

As we have seen that at times suicide hotlines don’t help and provide their services as we had hoped for. But there are certain precautions and coping strategies that one can apply to help themselves or their loved ones from committing suicide. Some of the alternatives to when suicide hotlines don’t work are:

  • Remove any harmful object from surrounding
  • Reach out to family and friends
  • Seek therapy from professionals
  • Take medications 
  • Avoid the intake of drugs or alcohol
  • Look out for warning signs in your behavior

Remove any harmful object from surrounding

The very first step is to remove any harmful object like knives, rope, harmful chemicals, etc from your surroundings. Once these objects are out of reach the person will have time to contempt their moves and not take any rash decisions. 

Reach out to family and friends

Talk to your family and friends about your thoughts of committing suicide or in case you do not want to let them know, just talk to them. Ask them how they are, etc. 

Seek therapy from professionals

In case you do not want to let your family or friends know about your want to know about your thoughts. Talk to a professional who deals with cases of suicide. Do not call any hotline instead book an appointment with a licensed psychologist or counselor and talk to them. 

Take medications 

You can also refer to a psychiatrist and talk to them about the thoughts you’ve been having. They might prescribe you medicines like anti-depressants to be taken. These medicines will not remove the thoughts magically but will help you deal with them. 

Avoid the intake of drugs or alcohol

Drugs and alcohol increase our chances of doing things we might regret later. Ensure that you stay away from drugs and alcohol especially if you are thinking of committing suicide anytime soon. Drugs and alcohol mess with the brain and make our thinking more illogical and irrational. 

Look out for warning signs in your behavior

Looking out for the above mentioned warning signs in yourself and your loved ones. As it is better to take precautions and seek help than to let the matter become so worse that there is no going back. 

In this article, we focused on what can be done when suicide hotlines don’t help, identified the symptoms of suicide so that you can seek help for yourself or help your loved ones.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

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