Letter to dvm360: The suicide hotline does work

December 2, 2019

Disturbed to hear someone had a wait on a mental health hotline, this doctor and licensed social worker wants people to know that the calls do get through.

Editor's note: If you're experiencing feelings of depression or suicidal ideation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK; 800-273-8255; suicidepreventionlifeline.org). It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I'm sorry to have read that the author of “Beyond the suicide hotline” in the September 2019 issue of dvm360 magazine learned of an exceptionally long hold during a call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

As a practicing small animal veterinarian and licensed social worker, I answer calls to the NSPL working as an emergency services counselor (ESC) for the behavioral health services of the DuPage County Health Department. There are three to five ESCs working each shift, 24/7, and we each handle two to four calls to the NSPL per shift. My experience is that none of us have ever placed a call on hold; if necessary, we have a colleague make a 911 call while still speaking to a caller or converse with a caller while looking for appropriate resources.

The NSPL does include an FAQ with the question, “How do I submit a complaint, compliment or other feedback?” and an answer that leads to a contact page. The public can use that in case they have a troubling experience with a call taker on the NSPL.

Thank you for allowing me to offer feedback, as I would not want anyone to not call the NSPL because of a complaint addressed in your publication.

Tom Favale, DVM, MSW, LSW

Wheaton, Illinois