I had been a Virtual Receptionist for a few months when the call came in. He said “I don’t want to live anymore.”
“I knew that working in a call center would be stressful at times but nothing could prepare me for those six words.”
It began just the same as any story like this would. My fellow receptionists and I were answering the phones and going about our day as normal. Little did we know it at the time, but our day would soon be turned upside down by six words.
I said “How may I help you?” and he replied, “I don’t want to live anymore.”
I remember being both shocked and afraid. I tried to recall everything I’d ever read about helping someone who was suicidal, there wasn’t much. So I did what I knew how to do best. I listened.
It was like the floodgates had opened. He spoke about what was making him so incredibly sad and why he didn’t feel like life was worth living anymore. He spoke of being stressed and feeling like he was backed into a corner with nowhere else to turn. More than anything else, he sounded very lost. Like he wanted someone to tell him how he could make his problems all go away. I can’t even say how much I wished I could have.
While I was listening, I was terrified. I didn’t know what I should or should not say. I was just an undergrad working at an Answering Service. You know what I knew? Nothing. Not one single thing.
Luckily, I was not alone in the call center. A fellow virtual receptionist had quickly realized what was happening and began researching tips on what I should and should not say to a suicidal caller. While she researched, another coworker called the crises counselor and let her know exactly what was happening. Because of their quick thinking we were able to connect the teen with the professional help, he required as soon as possible.
I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the help I received from my fellow co-workers that day. I’ll never know what became of the teen but I truly hope that he found a support system as strong as the one I had.