Frequently asked questions

What happens when you call a crisis line?

If you’ve never called a crisis line before, the idea of doing so can be kind of intimidating. Here at HopeLine, we recognize that it takes an incredible amount of courage to admit when things aren’t so great and to be willing to pick up the phone and ask for help. A large barrier to people calling or texting a crisis line can be the unknown. What happens when you call? Is it okay to still talk if you’re not suicidal? If you say you’re suicidal, will the cops immediately be called to your location? Are you going to be asked for a lot of personal information?

All of these are important questions, and completely valid. It’s vulnerable to call someone and admit that you’re not doing well. In order to help with these fears, we’ve put together a short step by step explanation of what happens when you call HopeLine.

Calling a crisis line was never meant to be scary. When you call us, you’ll get someone who is trained and ready to listen, and who is ready to be there for you. We’re ready when you are.

Who answers my call or text?

One of our trained volunteers will answer the phone. You’re not going to put on hold, or routed through a database. A volunteer is going to pick up, and say, “Hello, this is HopeLine.” That’s it. One of the problems being solely volunteer-staffed is that we’re human, and we can’t be everywhere at once. That means that sometimes, you may call, and instead of hearing a greeting, you’ll hear a recording letting you know what button you can press to be forward to the National Suicide Hotline. We’re not affiliated with them, and our training is totally different. It’s just that right now, with the resources we have, we are unable to be staffed 24/7 and they are.

What do I talk about?

After the volunteer greets you, the ball is in your court. You can tell us as much or as little as you’d like. Our volunteers are not counselors, so if you ask for advice, they won’t be able to give that. What they are able to do is listen, support you, affirm you, and help you decide what you think your next steps should be. No matter what you’re facing, you’re not alone, and we’re here to remind you of that.

Do I have to be suicidal to use HopeLine's services?

You don’t have to be suicidal to talk to us. We believe that the definition of a crisis changes from individual to individual, and we acknowledge that everyone responds to stressors in life different. This life is not a competition, and neither is your crisis. You’re not taking up space for anyone else when you call us in crisis. If you tell the volunteer on the other end of the line that you’re not in crisis and just want to chat, they will take steps to make sure that we find you the appropriate resource for what you need. However, a volunteer will never be dismissive of your crisis and they will always take the time to hear you and what you have to say. If they’re concerned that your call may be inappropriate, or if they feel that you may be in danger, our volunteers have been trained in the appropriate line of questioning to understand you and your situation best.

When might police or other emergency services be involved?

If you are suicidal, and our volunteer learns of that, they are not going to immediately call the police. They’re going to talk with you, discuss how you’re doing, and learn as much as you’re willing to share about what has gotten you there. HopeLine reserves the right to contact emergency services if we feel that you are in danger, but that will never be done without your knowledge. However, if you are in a domestic violence situation, the authorities will never be contacted without your consent.

Is it really anonymous?

We’re not going to ask you for irrelevant information during the conversation. We don’t need to know your name to be compassionate, kind, and empathetic. If we suspect that you’re a minor in a situation of abuse/an individual at risk of harming themselves or others we may ask for more information in order to help you in any way possible. (If you’re a minor in a situation of abuse, we want you to know that while we are a safe place to share that information, we are also legally obligated to do what we can to get you the help that is needed.) You won’t be required to give up any sort of identifying information before you chat with us.