After spending a semester with me, you may or may not know that I volunteer with Contact Pittsburgh. As of now, this is a statewide crisis hotline, in which anyone can call and be guaranteed an ear. With extreme confidentiality and capable, caring crisis line specialists (CLS), I really love the organization. I strongly support the programming and policies as well; I feel that it helps many people, suicidal or not, when they are in need.

As part of my training as a volunteer, it was necessary that I attend an intensive 16-hour suicide intervention program over one weekend. I dreaded it, longer than school or work; I would be cooped up in a room, talking about suicide from nine in the morning, until five at night. By the time I arrived on Friday, I had already missed three classes, been on an hour bus ride, and chugged a cup of black coffee. I was not happy. However, believe it or not, the hours literally flew by, as I learned in a unique style, instead of the lecture type learning I am so used to. We worked in groups, and discussed concepts such as suicide, which is very common in American society.

The class consisted of a very interesting, diverse group; police officers, 911 dispatchers, therapists, CLS’ prison guards, and hostage negotiators. Such a diverse dynamic led to interesting discussions. One interesting discussion topic we argued was the diction “committing suicide.” Committing infers and crime, and while once upon a time, suicide was a crime, the suffering person is not attempting to commit anything. Some prefer the term “completing”, while others feel it is silly to get caught up on the words.

Just some food for thought!


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