Suicide. That word alone can make you feel a wide variety of emotions. Sadness, remorse, regret, shame, and sometimes anger. What is it about that word that makes people react to it that way? The word itself, along with the image that comes to mind is ‘ugly’. Nobody see’s suicide as a positive thing and rightfully so. My birthday in 2005 is when I had to answer the unfortunate call. Why me? Why then? Why? Well what I wish I knew then is “why” is the worst question to ask. “Why?” is the ugliest part of suicide.
While I spend my adult life missing one of my closest friends whom makes up a majority of my childhood memories, I’ve decided to take action to help others. Suicide prevention is the highest priority to me. The hard cold reality is knowing that I can’t prevent them all. I’ve accepted a job that gives me the opportunity to help with prevention but being a 911 dispatcher isn’t as easy as the movies make it out to be. Especially when it comes to suicidal callers. A majority of the suicidal callers that dial 911 are actually just looking for help. They want assistance. They don’t want to feel alone or abandoned anymore. They call looking for help. We dispatchers intend on giving them the help they need. At first it’s strange keeping a stranger on the line as they talk about how their life has turned upside down. You aimlessly speak with this person who you’ve never met before, and will likely never meet, just to buy some time until a police officer can be on scene to ensure their safety. Then it’s time to hang up to take the stray dog call. But it’s so much more than just keeping someone on the line. You have to make this person who you’ve never met believe that no matter what they are going through, things will get better, and you’ll be there for them to help make it better. But, unfortunately, there is also the other kind of suicidal caller. The one who has their mind made up. This person can sometimes give you the reason, the means, how they intend on doing it, and who to contact for them when the line goes empty. I am lucky to be one of the dispatchers that hasn’t had the line go empty.
Sometimes I think that suicide makes my job so hard. In reality, it’s the easiest part of the process. I mean, after all, I just talked to this person on the phone, right? What’s the worst that could happen? Some dispatchers know first hand the worst that could happen. Some of my coworkers have answered calls for people who just want someone to find their body before their wife or kids. Even worse, some coworkers have heard a human being take their own life over the telephone. It is my personal hope and dream to never have to deal with such an occurrence. The sad reality is knowing that I have to, and will have to again.
Survivors Joining for Hope is available those who are asking “why?” More importantly, we are here to hold your hand, and provide assistance however we can in your darkest times. So please, if you need assistance after a suicide contact us. If you need help with suicidal thoughts or tendencies, dial 9-1-1.
We WILL all get through this, we WILL all survive and we WILL give hope.
Hopefully, we never have to meet in person. If we do, until then, operator B397, signing off.