That’s the number for the suicide hotline. I’ve called that number.
I don’t remember the day, month, or time of year this was. I don’t remember why I was alone, or where my family was. I don’t remember why I was so upset.
I do remember sitting the corner of my bed and the wall in a ball so tight I was practically part of the plaster. I do remember having the number pulled up. I do remember taking a deep breath, closing my eyes, and pressing the button before I could talk myself out of it.
I also remember that on this particular day, I wasn’t suicidal.
Why was I calling the suicide hotline if I had no intention of killing myself?
In short, I needed someone to talk to. For whatever reason, I didn’t want to call my family. I don’t know why, I just didn’t.
Here’s what happened, or at least what I remember:
A woman answered and told me her name (I wish I remember it), then asked for mine. When I didn’t respond, she reminded me the call was private and she was there to help.
“Rachel,” I whispered.
She said hello to me by name, reminded me of hers, and said she was really glad I called. She said something about how it was brave of me to call and she knew it must have been hard.
She said she could hear I was upset and she wanted to help me. She made sure I was safe and asked if I’d done or taken anything she should know about.
“No, I don’t want to do anything like that.”
She said that was good. She talked for a while and I don’t remember a single word of it. I do remember the tone and pacing of her voice. I remember she sounded trustworthy, like I could tell her anything. I can't remember if I told her why I was upset.
She told me to take deep breaths. She told me problems that feel big now feel smaller with time. She suggested I try journaling and we talked about some things I like to do, like take walks and draw.
Then she said I sounded like I’d calmed down, and I agreed. We wrapped up the call, I thanked her, she told me again it was brave to call.
I couldn’t have been on the phone more than fifteen minutes, and even though I didn’t pour my soul out to this woman, it helped a great deal. There’s something about talking to a stranger, especially one you can't see, that’s incredibly freeing.
I’d been so scared to call. It took me longer to dial the number than it did to talk to that woman. She didn’t give me life changing advice, she didn’t say anything I hadn't heard before, but it helped. The fact that this stranger was willing to take fifteen minutes to talk to me, to say she wanted to help, to call me brave, that meant something.
You don’t need to be suicidal to call the hotline. You can call for any kind of mental health crisis. If you are seriously wondering if you should call, the answer is yes.
It won't replace a therapist. You probably won't get life-changing advice. You will get someone who cares and is willing to listen. Sometimes that’s enough.
**I urge you to try calling even if you hate phone calls. However, if you can't, there is a text line. Text HOME to 741741. I’ve never used this one, so I can't tell you anything about it other than it exists.**
**The suicide prevention lifeline also has an online chat, found here. Disclaimer, there can be a significant wait time.**