Characteristics and Proximal Outcomes of Calls Made to Suicide Crisis Hotlines in California

Variability Across Centers

Published in: Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on July 14, 2016

by Rajeev Ramchand, Lisa H. Jaycox, Patricia A. Ebener, Marylou Gilbert, Dionne Barnes-Proby, Prodyumna Goutam

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Access further information on this document at Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention

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Background

Suicide hotlines are commonly used to prevent suicides, although centers vary with respect to their management and operations.

Aims

To describe variability across suicide prevention hotlines.

Method

Live monitoring of 241 calls was conducted at 10 suicide prevention hotlines in California.

Results

Call centers are similar with respect to caller characteristics and the concerns callers raise during their calls. The proportion of callers at risk for suicide varied from 3 to 57%. Compliance with asking about current suicide risk, past ideation, and past attempts also ranged considerably. Callers to centers that were part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) were more likely to experience reduced distress than callers to centers that were not part of the NSPL.

Conclusion

Because callers do not generally choose the center or responder that will take their call, it is critical to promote quality across call centers and minimize the variability that currently exists. Accrediting bodies, funders, and crisis centers should require that centers continuously monitor calls to ensure and improve call quality.

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