The Practical C-L Psychiatrist

September is Suicide Prevention Month and I’ve been particularly more appreciative of psychiatry residents and crisis telephone hot line volunteers. When I was a resident I took calls from suicidal patients via the hospital operator and, as faculty, I still get the occasional call on the general hospital psychiatry consultation service when I carry the resident’s pager for the times when he or she must attend didactic classes, be absent for some reason, or uncomfortable about taking such calls (understandably more frequent with trainees rotating through the service from non-psychiatric specialties).

The conversations are often lengthy, intense and may end abruptly, leading to hurried phone calls to local police in order to request emergency welfare checks. Sometimes I never learn the the outcome.

I wondered about the research evidence supporting the crisis hot line, given that I was never specifically trained for interacting with suicidal callers and I’m not aware…

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