Finding resources for patients is an ongoing practice for licensed professional counselors. These resources may include listings of community based support groups (e.g., AA/NA/Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery meetings) or after-hours and national hotlines.
Recently, I attended a suicide prevention workshop at the Phoenix Center in Greenville. During this training, taught by Alexandra Karydi, PhD, LMFT, LAC, CSAC, program director of the South Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative, I found myself soaking up all of the information she provided and then pondering how I might incorporate this into my everyday world.
Fairly soon after the training, I realized I had begun to give out information about the Crisis Text hotline. It was a single sheet of paper with a simple message: “Text HELLO to 741-741.” These had been provided to those of us in Dr. Karydi’s training, and I had hung it on my bulletin board. By the end of two weeks, only three of the little tear-off strips of information remained.
I realized I probably should “test” the services before I continued to promote the Crisis Text Line further. After all, I thought, what if I’m giving out this information and the “741-741” is not in operation? Not good.
So, I did it. I texted “HELLO” to 741741. In less than a minute, a prepared text response came back to me offering a little more information about the text line. I keyed in: “This is not a crisis. I’m a therapist in SC seeking additional resources for patients.”
Another text message showed on my phone screen indicating someone would be with me soon. And yes, within all of 1-2 minutes, a person began to respond directly to my notification. The message to me indicated that there was indeed someone responding, and that the service exists to help those experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Satisfied, I have since ordered socks and a wrist bracelet emblazoned with “741-741.” I’m a walking billboard now to promote this resource and encourage anyone who thinks that no one hears you or cares about you to reach out and say, “HELLO.”
Dede Norungolo, MRC, CRC, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor on the Pastoral Care team at Bapist Easley Hospital.