Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Calling on Hearts Instead of Hotlines: Options for people who care about people

Not long ago, a friend of mine called the National Suicide Hotline.  He was having a hard day and needed his distress to be heard.  He barely got started talking before the operator interrupted him.  It was the standard suicide assessment:
  • Are you suicidal?
  • Do you have a plan?
  • Do you have the means?
  • Have you set a date? 
They also made clear that if he answered the questions as certain way, the 911 van would be dispatched to his residence forthwith.

Frankly, this is why I would never refer someone I loved to a suicide hotline.  If I had any doubt about killing myself before calling, this kind of response would pretty much seal the deal.  There's the basic human insult of getting asked impersonal, pro forma questions like these in my darkest hour at my time of greatest need.  Heap on top of that the public humiliation of getting hauled off to the nut ward by 911, flashing lights and all, for my neighborhood to see, on the worst day of my life.

Yes, not all hotlines and hotline operators are like this, but enough of them are that I, personally, wouldn't risk it.  Suffice it to say:   If I had any shred of a doubt remaining  -- or perhaps a threadbare hope in the good of humanity -- this wholesale warping of the nature of human 'aid', sponsored by my government, funded with my tax dollars, would cut the cord once and for all between me and any lingering desire to live.

So what's the solution....?  After all, this crisis is real.  The pain is real.  The despair is real.  The deaths are real.  Tons and tons of Americans - as well as others worldwide - feel hopeless, worthless, disconnected - as if we have nothing of value to offer and our lives have only become burdens to those we love.

This really is life and death.  So none of us can afford to stick our heads in the sand and pretend anymore:
It isn't me. It isn't someone I love.  It isn't happening. . .
At the same time, the helplessness and confusion about what to do about it is also real.

And that's exactly why peer relationships and peer-developed modalities can be so helpful.  Many, many of us have been there.  Many, many of us know what it is like.  Many, many of us are still alive to talk about it.  We know what we tried, what worked for us and what didn't.  We know what ways of relating gave us hope and helped us to continue on.

Just as important - we know what not to do - what devastated us, wasted precious resources or made life altogether unbearable. As a result of these experiences, we've developed countless approaches for navigating our own distress and that of our friends and families.

This is not to say that all peers are wonderful supporters, that we all magically, intuitively, say the right thing at the right time or invariably make things better instead of worse.  (Definitely not my experience.)  However, we do have some important perspectives and orientations to add to the mix of the available options.

Get Connected

If the idea of peer support appeals to you, or you think it might appeal to someone you love, here's what we offer at Peerly Human (http://peerlyhuman.blogspot.com):

  • Wednesdays, 8:30-10 pm EDT, Deadly Serious: Talking Openly About Suicide 
  • Saturdays, Noon - 1 pm EDT, Deadly Serious: Talking Openly About Suicide 
  • Saturdays, 5-6:30 pm EDT, Intentional Peer Support Practice Series (beginner's welcome!)


Flyer reads: Wednesdays 8:30-10 pm EDT - FREE ONLINE DEADLY SERIOUS: Talking Openly About Suicide (Weekly starting June 13th)  Join by computer:  https://zoom.us/j/119362879 Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 119 362 879 International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh  THE BOTTOM LINES:  1. Come as a human being 2. Come as you (& only you)  3. No pros, no cops, no 911  We Welcome:  ~Your lived experience ~ Your distress ~Your pain ~Your needs ~Your values ~Your ideas & insights about what would work for you  Leave Behind:   ~ Professional roles, reporting obligations and liability concerns ~ Political, social or organizational agendas ~ Opinions about the experiences of others or what is best for them  More info at: peerlyhuman.blogspot.com   Need more resources? Here's a link: http://peerlyhuman.blogspot.com/2018/06/calling-on-hearts-instead-of-hotlines.html   RADICAL REGARD (graphic):  I will train myself to:  1.Believe in you. (You, like me, are here for good reason.) 2.Value your differences. (You, like me, lease a window to view life from.) 3.Honor your journey. (You, like me, are here without a roadmap.) 4.Trust our hearts to lead us. (You, like me, are accountable to your own Truth.)  HUMAN RIGHTS (graphics):  ~We are all born free and equal. ~Everyone has the right to life, freedom and safety ~Everyone is entitled to these rights (no matter our race, religion, nationality…) ~No one can take away any of your rights. ~You have the responsibility to respect the rights of other
Deadly Serious: Talking Openly About Suicide
Flyer reads: INTENTIONAL PEER SUPPORT PRACTICE SERIES SATURDAYS WEEKLY 5-6:30 pm Eastern FREE  ONLINE Beginners Welcome      Learn and Practice Every Week  Real People Real Support Real Life  Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/119362879 Join by phone:  +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Enter Meeting ID: 119 362 879 International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh   About IPS:  Intentional peer support (IPS) is a way of thinking about and being in purposeful relationships. In IPS, we use our relationships to look at things from new angles. We develop a better awareness of personal and relational patterns. We support and challenge each other as we try new things. IPS is different from traditional service relationships because it doesn’t ,start with the assumption of “a problem.” Instead, we learn to listen for how each of us has made sense of our experiences. Together, we create new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. At the end of the day, it is really about building stronger, healthier communities.  More info (& study guide) at:  peerlyhuman.blogspot.com  Left Graphic: Cover of IPS Workbook [picture of a woman wearing a hoodie with images of a tree, a house and a hand.  She is holding a smaller version of herself in her arms.  Written in cursive on the image is ‘What is forgotten is who we are.  Right Graphic:  IPS Promo Poster [picture of a man in a wheelchair, a woman sitting on the grass listening to him, and another leaning against a tree.  Above them on the branches of the tree reads: “From helping to learning together, individual to relationship, fear to hope and possibility” In the horizon below that “Connection/ Worldview / Mutuality/ Moving Towards”]
Intentional Peer Support Practice Series

3 WAYS TO JOIN

1. Join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/119362879
2. Join by phone: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656  (Meeting ID: 119 362 879) 
3. Local access numbers for International callers: https://zoom.us/u/jkwt3wHh

THE BOTTOM LINES:

1. Come as a human being
2. Come as you (& only you)
3. No pros, no cops, no 911

We Welcome:

~Your lived experience ~ Your distress ~Your pain ~Your needs   ~Your values  ~Your ideas & insights about what would work for you

Leave Behind:

~ Professional roles, reporting obligations and liability concerns
~ Political, social or organizational agendas
~ Opinions about the experiences of others or what is best for them

Video, voice and text are all options.  Call participants are welcome to come and go.  If you come late, please enter quietly and respect the discussion that is going on.


Other online group support options:  

Hearing Voices Network, http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org/

Mutual aid for voices, visions or extreme or unusual experiences
  • Mondays 7-8:30 EDT on Zoom
  • Thursdays 9-10:30 EDT on Zoom
Contact Caroline@westernmassrlc.org for call-in info

Emotions Anonymous, http://emotionsanonymous.org

Twelve Step peer support for emotional extremes



Spiritual Emergence Anonymous, http://spiritualemergenceanonymous.org/

Twelve Step approach to spiritual emergency
  • Sundays, 8 pm EDT on Zoom
  • Mondays, 1 pm EDT on Zoom

Support Groups Central, https://www.supportgroupscentral.com


Support group options (some online) for mood, anxiety, voices and substances, among other things

Other Options

The big picture

1. Peer respites (spaces offering safe respite)

2. Peer support centers

  • Directory of Statewide Peer Organizations, https://power2u.org/consumer-run-statewide-organizations/
  • Examples of what can be done:

3. Alternatives to Suicide

4. Support lines staffed with people who care and want to listen

5. Intentional Peer Support,   http://www.intentionalpeersupport.org/


6. Emotional CPR, http://www.emotional-cpr.org/


7. Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP),  http://mentalhealthrecovery.com/


WRAP plans can be developed specifically for issues like wanting to die.  WRAP plans also support identification of life-promoting, capacity-restoring activities like art, exercise, creativity, writing, social interaction, nutritious eating, meaningful vocation, relaxation, meditation, spiritual development, body work, massage, yoga, dance, etc.

8. Support for veterans 

U.S. vets are dying by suicide almost every hour on the hour every day of every year

9. Support to withdraw from psychiatric drugs


10. Support for creativity and resilience

Better Days International, https://www.facebook.com/groups/280572615798759/
Discussions, collaborations, workshops between experts by experience.

Icarus Project, https://theicarusproject.net
Navigating the space between brilliance and madness
  • Publications:
 Poetry for Personal Power, http://poetryforpersonalpower.com
What helps you navigate adversity?

11. Support for voices, visions and extreme or unusual experiences


12.  Support for human needs and human rights


Other Resources 

Alternatives to Drugs, Shock & Psychosurgery (yes, they still do that!)


Open Dialogue:

Power Threat Meaning Framework

Trauma-Informed Care



Do you know of other helpful resources that respect personhood and treat us as people first...?  Please share!



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