Local crisis line trains volunteers to handle increasing calls | St. Louis Public Radio

Local crisis line trains volunteers to handle increasing calls

Aug 16, 2016

A St. Louis-based crisis hotline is preparing to receive nearly twice as many calls as usual after being selected to serve as a backup center for the national network.


In October, Provident will be one of 10 call centers around the country taking calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline when local crisis lines are overwhelmed. They’re expecting 150 to 200 calls a day from all over the country.

 “We used to be 80 to 100 calls a day, so it’s still doubling what we’re used to,” said Adrianne Martin, a Provident clinician who trains new volunteers.


Calls had declined in recent months after Provident lost a contract to serve as a backup center for Midwestern states. Martin and her colleagues are ramping efforts back up to train enough volunteers to meet the expected demand.


On a recent Friday afternoon, Martin took a break during a training session for 21 new volunteers. At any one time, five people can staff the phones at Provident, and shifts are kept around the clock.


“It’s a crisis intervention," Martin said. "So we’re not here to give counseling, but in the moment of crisis, we’re probably more adept at handling a situation than a typical therapist would be.”


Provident staff members said Monday they plan to start offering training sessions for new volunteers every couple of months, instead of just four times a year.


To reach Provident's life crisis hotline, call 314-647-HELP or 1-800-273-TALK.


Follow Durrie on Twitter: @durrieB


Note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Martin's last name.