Contact Hotline lends an ear to those struggling with suicide

Volunteers answer 65 phone calls a day

Syracuse, NY (WSYR-TV) - Suicide rates are rising across the country, and one of the biggest increases is among girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Sometimes all it takes is someone to listen and that's where the Contact Hotline can help.

"We take calls from the community on a variety of topics from relationships, employment concerns, we do talk to people that are in crisis as well," said Kristine Knutson, Program Manager.

The hotline receives about 65 phone calls daily; 20 percent of those callers they talk to each and every day. Most of the calls are answered by volunteers.

Kristine Knutson gets volunteers ready to answer calls and takes them through a rigorous training process. 

"We can be aware of clues or cues that people give us, suicide communication that they might share and we can't be afraid to ask the tough questions," said Knutson.

A big part of the training is changing the conversation surrounding suicide.

"I think there's still a lot of stigma around the idea of suicide. We talk about people committing suicide or a successful or unsuccessful suicide. We have to be aware of the language that we use; it might turn people off from seeking help when they're depressed or feeling helpless," said Knutson.

If you would like to speak with someone at the Contact Hotline, you can call 315-251-0600.

If you're interested in volunteering, the group will begin its next round of training in June. For more information, call Kristine Knutson at 315-251-1400 X115.

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