Editor's Note: "Stories from the Helpline" is a recurring feature on The Bilerico Project, bringing in the personal accounts of Helpline counselors from The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. This installment comes from Dave Reynolds, who is the East Coast call center manager at The Trevor Project. He is also a volunteer Helpline counselor at The Randy Stone East Coast Call Center in New York City.
Since joining The Trevor Project's dedicated team over a year ago, I have taken and listened in on hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of calls. When asked what I do for a living, I respond with almost automatic precision, "I manage a crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth." This universally elicits a "deer in headlights" response as people search for the appropriate response. It is not every day that we actually get to meet those of us who manage the phone lines and outlets that save desperate and isolated lives every day across this country. Personally, I take pride in saving these young lives, but really love the fact that I, accompanied by all of the fabulous volunteers who take our phone calls, have a direct stake in seeing the healthy future and vitality of the next generation of LGBTQ people.
As one may guess, some calls stick with counselors more than others, and I would like to share a story of a call that I took at the beginning of my career at The Trevor Helpline that I think about to this day. I still use this call to guide my work and development as a counselor. A young gay man that we'll call Jake reached out to us from a city in the Midwest. Jake was calling from the psychiatric unit of a nearby hospital in which he was staying on a 72-hour mandatory hold that accompanies suicide attempts. He had attempted to overdose on pills and had a history of two prior suicide attempts.