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Henry Reese Butler II

Henry Reese Butler II, 1-800-SUICIDE, and National Hopeline Network, Founder

My name is Henry Reese Butler II, I am the founder of 1-800-SUICIDE and the National Hopeline Network of community crisis centers to which the calls are routed.

I started 1-800-SUICIDE in response to my own wife’s tragic and preventable suicide on April 7th 1998. Prior to her death there was no national hotline for the prevention of suicide yet the common perception was that it already existed. There also was no money in the suicide prevention community to pay for such a service and the general belief in the United States was that you could not prevent suicide, so there was little motivation for potential donors and grant makers to provide the necessary funding. As a result, I sold my home, and used my wife’s Life Insurance payment to create the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and start 1-800-SUICIDE. In 1998 there was only one crisis center in the network answering calls. By May of 1999 there were 8. By May 10th of 2000 there were 59 crisis centers in the National Hopeline Network. I mention this date because that was when Senator Domenici invited me to speak before a briefing on the Early Intervention and Mental Health Treatment Act of 2000. One of the outcomes of that speech was Senators Kennedy and Wellstone agreed to draft legislation to support 1-800-SUICIDE and the building of the National Hopeline Network.

Ten years ago this week 1-800-SUICIDE went live. It was called the National Hopeline Network and to more than 3 million callers in the United States it was and remains a lifeline, a source of hope and help in their darkest hour. However in the last 4 years the federal government through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has tried to snuff out that link to help and hope, tried to rename it, and in the end have issued press release after press release distorting the truth about 1-800-SUICIDE and the Veterans Suicide Hotline.

Ten Reasons the Government owned and operated national suicide hotline for veterans cannot ever be effective

  1. Veterans are not calling the government owned suicide hotline-despite the fact that SAMHSA and the VA are claiming more than 22,000 veterans have called 1-800-273-TALK. This statistic is misleading at best. If you examine the Chart #2 at the end of this testimony regarding the call volume on the entire network from July of 2006-July of 2008 and focus on the three months before the “veteran hotline” went live in July of 2007 and the three months after it went live the overall stats are statistically unchanged. Yet they claim in the three months after the VA Suicide hotline went live to have received an increase of 12,000 calls to the VA Center in Canandaigua NY. This would have to mean that all along (for years long before the VA Suicide Hotline was created) that our hotlines were getting 4,000 calls a month from veterans. We know this not to be true from our studies and evaluation of callers on the Hopeline Network. All the VA and the SAMHSA did through their contractor Link2health Solutions is add a voice tree on their existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that states if you or your family member is a veteran press Option #1 and you will get a Counselor. A much simpler explanation is that when people in crisis call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK they opt for pressing Option #1 because they know that will get them to a counselor faster. Our experiences with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army have historically shown that 10% of all callers who complete the call will press option #1 regardless of where it takes them.
  1. Even if a Veteran calls 1-800-273-TALK the call takers (clinicians) violate the most basic fundamental rule of helper behavior. That is gaining the trust and confidence of the caller by showing genuine empathy. In clinical studies the length of time to gain the needed level of trust and confidence takes an average of 10 minutes. The calls on the VA Suicide hotline are an average of 8 minutes. In the governments own funded evaluation of 1-800-SUICIDE (not 1-800-273 TALK as has been misrepresented to the media and Congress) empathy and respect, as well as factor-analytically derived scales of supportive approach and good contact and collaborative problem solving were significantly related to positive outcomes… for a complete review of this landmark study go to:
  1. 1-800-273-TALK does not invoke any connection to the veteran community. It does not speak to the callers needs or suggest in any way this is a hotline for them.  However, KBHC’s 1-877-VET2VET (838-2838) is both easy to remember numerically as well as visually.  It also speaks to the veteran community by invoking the peer connection--a Veteran talking to a Veteran. KBHC offered this line to the federal government to insure that this program would be a success, but they did not even acknowledge the offer. Even New Jerseys veteran peer hotline is closer to what veterans would expect a number to look like. 1-866-VETS-NJ4U.  As difficult a number as this one is to remember it is far better for Veterans than 1-800-273-TALK, where the veteran connection is only gained by calling the number and focusing on the veteran option.  In this case, press Option #1 if you are a Veteran.  This option may be overlooked by callers in immediate crisis.

Our veterans deserve far better than talk or a hotline that is for general crisis with a voice tree option for Veterans to choose from.

  1. Chance of a misdial on the 1-800-273-TALK hotline. As this is not an easy number to remember like 1-800-SUICIDE there is a high incidence of calls ending up at 1-800-272-TALK, and 1-800-274-TALK.
  1. In a recent survey of all 1-800-***-TALK lines better than 50% were found to be adult sex lines. In fact the following numbers are all sex hotlines; 1-800-270-TALK, 1-800-272-TALK, 1-800-277-TALK, 1-800-278-TALK, 1-800-279-TALK, 1-800-280-TALK.

Case in point. The owners of 1-800-274-TALK, Radio North, have fielded thousands of misdialed calls. One of the key advisors of the 1-800-273-TALK line, Marcia Epstein, sent me an email just last week where she was asking questions about 800-SUICIDE and referred to 1-800-273-TALK as 1-800-272-TALK. If the hotlines own leaders and advisors cannot remember the number how can we expect a veteran with PTSD, or further any individual in crisis to remember it, and dial it properly?

  1. The Veterans Administration and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration have been issuing press releases**, (see page 5) and giving interviews since the launch of the Veterans Suicide Hotline line in July of 2007, that have been grossly misleading. In fact in testimony given before the VA Committee on Veterans Affairs in May of this year, statistics about calls to the NSPL failed to include the fact that better than 50% of all calls to the VA Mental Health Center of Excellence in Canandaigua originated on the 1-800-SUICIDE hotline. As recently as yesterday the SAMHSA issued an additional misleading and inaccurate press release stating that the NSPL was founded in 2001, and that its call volume began at 1500 a month and now receives over 45,000 calls per month.  This press release credits viral marketing and other internet marketing for the significant increase. The chart at the end of my testimony clearly shows that the increase came as a result of the call volume/traffic on 1-800-SUICIDE to be routed to the 1-800-273-TALK network. This occurred as a result of the SAMHSA misrepresenting the facts regarding a manufactured crisis to the FCC; subsequently the control of 1-800-SUICIDE was taken on a temporary basis from the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, the founding agency and given to the SAMHSA in February 2007. With the launch of the Veteran Suicide Hotline just months away in July of 2007 it is now very evident why the SAMHSA was so eager to get control of 1-800-SUICIDE. That temporary order remains in effect 20 months later.
  1. Because 1-800-273-TALK is government owned and controlled, innovation and creativity is naturally stifled by the bureaucracy that is self-preserving. What makes a hotline effective is first and foremost that your target audience is calling the number you market. Then the real job begins and it requires a building of trust, confidence and the call taker displaying genuine empathy.
  1. In the ten years since I have founded and built the National Hopeline Network, 1-800-SUICIDE and 9 other prominent suicide hotlines such as the 1- 877-VET2VET and 1-800-SUICIDA for Spanish speaking callers, there is one thing that has been a constant—and that is change. We have had to adapt to change as studies revealed new best practices. Not wait years for change but to make them sometimes on the fly as in the case with Hurricane Katrina. As we watched the storm head up the Gulf for New Orleans we rallied our crisis centers to take overflow from the Gulf Coast and reroute the calls to Nebraska, Atlanta and other points out of harms way. We did not flinch when Tipper Gore asked us to handle the crisis calls from the White House Conference on Mental Health that kicked off a campaign on MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and other high volume channels. We went from 8 crisis centers taking calls at the beginning of the month and had 59 centers signed on board to take the calls by the end of the month. Sometimes it required waiving many of the rules and sticking points in our contracts. We still answer that line 8 years later with no funding from the government. We operated and still operate as an agile PT Boat. The 1-800-273-TALK is an Aircraft Carrier and cannot get out of its own way.

A case in point: During the first full month after the SAMHSA took over control of 1-800-SUICIDE, Oprah aired our number without warning to us. The area code for her show in downtown Chicago was being routed to a clinician on call via a pager instead of to the crisis center at which he worked. Oprah’s front office was being slammed with complaints that 1-800-SUICIDE was not working. I called the SAMHSA to alert them and get the routing fixed.

Their response from SAMHSA Press Relations Office was to scold Oprah’s people for using 1-800-SUICIDE instead of 1-800-273-TALK. The Director and his staff were all in China for a conference. No one at SAMHSA could make the executive decision or would make one. I got off the phone with the SAMHSA and called the CEO of the telephony company (which we were in the middle of a multi million dollar lawsuit regarding the taking of our hotline which they participated in) to solve the problem. I let them know that lives were at stake and to their credit in minutes the problem was solved.

  1. In study after study peer counseling (see abstracts on pages 6-8) has proven to be more effective than clinical counseling. It does not matter if it is a teen hotline, breast cancer, AIDS, or rape hotline, the best outcomes are achieved when the caller can connect with the call taker. This involves understanding the real problems and issues the caller is facing. If the call taker has never experienced the things the caller has it makes it harder to relate in any credible fashion. For example if a man is taking a call from a woman who has been raped, or is suffering post partum depression how can he ever say to the woman “I know what that feels like?” It is no different for the veteran. Veterans who suffer PTSD have faced scenarios no one other than a veteran or active duty service man or woman has faced.
  1. The worst results in the government owning the veteran suicide hotline is the reality that 1) confidential data on callers is being sent to the Federal Government and 2) the form of response they send when the crisis line worker determines that a “rescue” is necessary. Rescue is the police. Sending an armed untrained person to de-escalate a veteran suffering from PTSD is the worst possible solution and at best will result in the veteran not trusting the hotline, being humiliated, more stress added to the already stressed veteran. The worst outcome is of course suicide by cop that occurs more frequently than we would like to believe. 

We are losing 5,000 veterans a year to suicide. They deserve better than option one on a generic crisis hotline and the response should be trained empathetic mental health professionals who can best de-escalate a psychiatric crisis. The ironic part is the SAMHSA helps pay for over 800 of these PET (Psychiatric Emergency Team) and ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) teams and yet none are even networked with the VA hotline much less any of the community based crisis hotlines.

Why SUICIDE Crisis Lines should be owned and operated by NGO’s

  • Individuals in crisis would not likely call a crisis hotline they knew was operated by the Federal Government
  • KBHC purges individually identifiable information on callers to 1-800-SUICIDE on a monthly basis. Currently the federal government receives the phone numbers (caller id—even for those who block their numbers) and has not even identified the need for a plan to protect the personal information obtained on callers in crisis
  • Without a strict confidential policy on data obtained on callers, information could be used against individuals who called suicide crisis lines who attempt to obtain credit, life and health insurance and mortgages.
  • Even if the current Administration adopted a confidentiality plan for callers to suicide crisis line, nothing would prevent future Administrations from changing or abandoning this policy.
  •  KBHC has demonstrated a full commitment to national suicide crisis lines that connect callers in crisis to the closest crisis center to them so that effective referrals to social, community and health supports can be made.
  • Over the past decade, the Federal Government has systematically been dismantling this nation’s social safety net, Medicaid, Medicare and aid to families with dependent children. In 2008, Congress was unable to override a Presidential veto that significantly cut the number of children who received health insurance through SCHIP. These were children whose parents did not obtain health benefits through work, or who were unable to afford health insurance.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration does not have the Congressional authority to operate a national suicide crisis line and given the current level of funding for the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no certainty that subsequent Administrations will support current levels of support or any support at all.
  • The government by its own admission does not provide care. It is an institution.
  • KBHC founded 1-800-SUICIDE out of a sincere desire to prevent suicide and offer unconditional support and hope. The Federal Governments wants 1-800-SUICIDE because no national mental health programs existed after the 1980s.
  • With the governments history of spying on its own people it cannot be trusted to protect the data on callers to 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK.
  • Rescue is sent in the form of police by the current network under control by the government.
  • KBHC will work to move rescue to the psychiatric emergency response teams and improve the line/network in many ways that only innovative, non-bureaucracy driven advocacy organizations can do. For example using punk rock concerts to raise awareness, recruit volunteers to become trained peer counselors.
  • ·When 1-800-SUICIDE was a grass roots advocacy effort the local agencies were happy to be a part of a positive movement. When the government took over the control they heaped reporting requirements onto the small non-profit agencies that made being a part of the network unattractive. It is safe to say that government ownership could in the end kill 1-800-SUICIDE. They could not conceive of it, nor create it, nor can replicate the good will generated by its amazing story, yet with the simple stroke of its bureaucratic might crush it and the spirit from which it emanated.
  • Since when did the US Government get an award for running anything efficiently and better than the private sector?

"Why would we ever want the government to run a social service that is designed to empathetically and unconditionally care about each and every person who comes in contact with the program?"

SAMPLE recent misleading Press Release by the SAMHSA

**Embargoed for Release Contact: SAMHSA Press Office, 240-276-2130
12:01 a.m., Wed., Sept. 10, 2008

 More Americans Than Ever Turn to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network Hotline (1 800-273-TALK) for Help with Suicide–Related Problems

Innovative support programs offer hope to an average of 43,000 people a month in crisis.

 The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) has become the nation’s leading source of immediate help for those dealing with suicide-related issues, according to new figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).   SAMHSA announced that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) received nearly 500,000 calls in the past year from people seeking help for themselves or someone for whom they cared.  The Lifeline is operated by SAMHSA’s grantee Link2Health Solutions, Inc., under a cooperative agreement.  The Lifeline was established in 2001 to provide a system of immediate, round-the-clock, reliable, skilled assistance to everyone struggling with suicide issues.  …………………………………………Further information on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other SAMHSA suicide prevention grant programs can be obtained by visiting SAMHSA’s website  SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation’s substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment and mental health services delivery systems.                                                                                                        ###

Abstracts of Evaluation of Crisis and Peer Hotlines

Which Helper Behaviors and Intervention Styles are Related to Better Short-Term Outcomes in Telephone Crisis Intervention? Results from a Silent Monitoring Study of Calls to the U.S. 1-800-SUICIDE Network

Brian L. Mishara, PhD, Franc¸ Lois Chagnon, PhD, Marc Daigle, PhD, Bogdan Balan, MD, PhD, Sylvaine Raymond, MA, Isabelle Marcoux, PhD, Ce´cile Bardon, MA, Julie K. Campbell, BS, and Alan Berman, PhD

A total of 2,611 calls to 14 helplines were monitored to observe helper behaviors and caller characteristics and changes during the calls. The relationship between intervention characteristics and call outcomes are reported for 1,431 crisis

calls. Empathy and respect, as well as factor-analytically derived scales of supportive approach and good contact and collaborative problem solving were significantly related to positive outcomes, but not active listening. We recommend recruitment of helpers with these characteristics, development of standardized training in those methods that are empirically shown to be effective, and the need for research relating short-term outcomes to long-term effects.

*This study was conducted under contract with the American Association of Suicidology in fulfillment of the evaluation requirements of Grant No. 6079SM54-27-01-1 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Thanks to Reese Butler, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center staff, Jerry Reed, and the Directors and helpers at the crisis centers who participated in this study.

Address correspondence to Brian Mishara, PhD, Director, Center for Research and Intervention on Suicide and Euthanasia, University of Quebec at Montreal, c.p. 8888, Succ. Center-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3C 3P8;

“The single most important environmental influence on student development is the peer group. By judicious and imaginative use of peer groups, any college or university can substantially strengthen its impact on student learning and personal development” (Astin, 1993, pxiv)

ERIC #:ED399504 Title:Assessment--Service--Training: The Many Faces of a University Peer Hotline. Authors:  Curran, Jack

In this study, a peer-operated university-based anonymous hotline is a data source for the assessment of student concerns and needs, providing empirical information for prevention-oriented psycho-educational campus programming. This paper covers the collection and assessment of data from the anonymous hotline service of the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program at the State University of New York at Albany. For the 1994-95 academic year, peer assistants recorded information on all calls to the hotline: demographic, call content, and counselor's response. Five tables reflect the patterns of usage of the hotline, representing the topic and frequency of calls and gender of caller. Data indicates that males used the hotline more than females, with most male repeat callers discussing sexual issues. Females, twice as likely to be non-repeat callers, were concerned with such issues as assault, rape, and eating disorders. Training undergraduate hotline staff to record calls with a data collection instrument is vital to the assessment of patterns of usage. Empirical analysis guides future curricula and the targeting of program intervention while acquainting students with the research aspect of the mental health profession. Appended are two recording instruments, and several tables which present statistical analysis. (LSR)

Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association (103rd, New York, New York, August 11-15, 1995).

Evaluation of a Peer-Staffed Hotline for Families Who Received Genetic Testing for Risk of Breast Cancer

Authors: James C. Coyne; Pamela J. Shapiro; PENNSYLVANIA UNIV PHILADELPHIA

This study was prepared for US Army Medical Research and Material Command Fort Detrick, MD 21701-5012

Abstract: This project proposed to develop, implement, and evaluate a peer- staffed toll-free hotline for individuals at high risk of developing hereditary breast cancer, either through family history or known BRCA1/2 mutations. The project is designed to demonstrate the acceptability and effectiveness of this tool for meeting the needs of these individuals and their families, and documents the range of problems for which assistance is sought. We have designed and implemented a refined peer counselor protocol that can be disseminated in larger multiple component peer-support packages. The Helpline Manual and Resource Guide was completed and distributed to our volunteers as part of an intensive training program. We successfully established the hotline, now called The Penn/F.O.R.C.E Telephone Helpline for individuals Concerned about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer," and opened the phone lines to the public on December 2, 2003. To date caller response to this service has been enthusiastically positive and has resulted in uptake of referrals to genetic counselors and gynecologic oncologists. Our counselors have addressed both psychosocial and practical issues associated with knowledge of mutation status, anxiety about personal and familial risk, communications difficulties with family and health professionals, concerns about discrimination, and difficulties accessing appropriate medical and support services.

The Mental Health Service at Harvard University HS, in conjunction with the Bureau of Study Counsel, oversees the training and supervision of five undergraduate peer counseling groups and one graduate group of peer counselors. All five of the undergraduate peer counseling groups offer confidential hotline and drop-in counseling throughout the academic year; the graduate group offers a confidential hotline.

Innovative training and evaluation at California hotline supports volunteer-driven, client-centered service.

Heft L; International Conference on AIDS. Int Conf AIDS. 1998; 12: 697-8 (abstract no. 33550). S.F. AIDS Foundation, California, USA.

ISSUES: Ongoing evaluation, interactive training methodology, volunteer support and creative information management combine in the delivery of an HIV/AIDS information hotline. PROJECT: The California HIV/AIDS Hotline is a statewide service of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The trilingual hotline is staffed by 100 volunteer health educators who provide free and anonymous information, counseling and referrals to 120,000 callers annually. Volunteers access a database, consisting of over 5,000 community based organizations, via the Internet to provide resource referrals and collect caller demographic data. An Intranet, which will consolidate technical information with a mental health approach, is under development. Peer health educators trained as interactive presenters teach new volunteers (quarterly) in topics ranging from immunology to psychosocial issues. Materials and methods are constantly adjusted to reflect changing HIV information, peer evaluation and effective learning techniques. Hotline educators are evaluated by quarterly testing and call monitoring. Ongoing training includes weekly information memos, quarterly informational updates, individualized learning opportunities, and computer and Internet training. Volunteer support includes resume assistance, letters of reference, computer training, recognition of birthdays, illnesses and family events, and social opportunities. RESULTS: The Hotline documents caller gender, language, location, ethnicity, age, risk and caller concerns. A total of 1,297 or 92% of 1,392 callers sampled reported that their call increased their knowledge that some of their personal activities might put them at risk for HIV infection. One-hundred percent of callers sampled responded that they would use this service again and refer it to their friends and loved ones. Volunteer retention remains above a projected 70% retention rate. LESSONS LEARNED: The coordination of interactive training methodology, ongoing evaluation and training, volunteer support and creative information management combine to support a high-quality volunteer-powered, client-focused, free and anonymous resource for peer counseling, information and referrals for 120,000 callers annually.

Government News

Peer Counseling, Family Education Could Ease Vets' Transition

Aaron Levin

Mandatory readjustment counseling, more complete data on substance abuse treatment, and more responsive employees could improve VA services to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The heavy reliance on National Guard and Reserve troops, with many units drawn from small towns, has increased the need for mental health services far from the usual sites of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ralph Ibson of Mental Health America told senators in Washington, D.C., in April.

The stress of combat is only worsened by repeated tours of duty, he said at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

"Half of all Army National Guard soldiers and 45 percent of Army and Marine reservists report mental health issues on their return from war," he said. "The VA can do more and should do more for them."

The VA health system has great strengths, he added. However, "it is a facility-based system that does not necessarily provide good access to care for veterans in rural America or in other areas remote from health care facilities."

Readjustment counseling could benefit most returning veterans, he said, but that help was usually limited to the 200 readjustment counseling centers (also called vet centers) and is not available at the VA's medical centers and clinics. There was no barrier preventing these larger sites from also providing such services, however, Ibson said.

Women make up 15 percent of the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and even their "noncombat" roles—like driving trucks, flying helicopters, or serving as military police—frequently exposed them to traumatic episodes that would meet any definition of warfare.

"The jury is still out on care of women veterans and the perceptions of the VA as a welcoming, caring place for them," said Ibson.

Ibson offered several suggestions for helping veterans and their families cope with the return of service members.

The VA should develop peer-based outreach programs by training veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to work at the VA or in the community to provide support for vets and make VA facilities welcoming environments. Families should also be offered services, at least for a specified period after a service member's return home. Help for small-town or rural veterans might be offered at local community mental health centers, where they exist.

Finally, the window of eligibility during which veterans may sign up with the VA without proving a service connection for any complaints should be extended from two to five years.

Earlier in the hearing, the senators heard from families of a soldier and a Marine who had returned from Iraq and later died.

The parents of Spc. Joshua Omvig of Grundy Center, Iowa, an Army Reserve military policeman, told how their son was "unable to live with the physical, mental, and psychological effects" of his time in Iraq and committed suicide a year after he returned home from an 11-month tour in Iraq.

To avoid tragedies like their son's, other troops need peer counseling before they come home, family education and outreach, increased training on recognizing symptoms that could lead to suicide, and substance abuse treatment, said Randall Omvig. While troops are still in uniform, their transition back into civilian life might be eased by having them spend days doing service-connected work while spending evenings and nights with their families.

"It helps them process their experience," said Omvig. "It would help them live the American dream that they fought for."

Justin Bailey, a Marine veteran of the invasion of Iraq, died on January 27 in the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital of an apparent overdose of prescription drugs, his father, Tony Bailey, told the senators. Despite a history of overusing drugs prescribed for pain from a war injury and for PTSD, Justin was given two-to four-week supplies of benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and methadone. Tony Bailey blamed "apathy and complacency" in the VA for his son's death.

"Nobody cared until I was on ABC News," said Bailey, who served 20 years in the armed forces. Families of veterans needed to advocate for patients in the VA, he said. "Always ask questions. Don't assume the VA will help without someone to push."

Speaking on behalf of the VA, Ira Katz, M.D., Ph.D., deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health, said the VA was already hiring more suicide prevention coordinators and was working to integrate its approach to substance abuse and mental health care.

"We want accountability," said Katz. "But we must go beyond narrow silos."

The effects of the "invisible wounds" suffered by veterans of the current conflicts will be felt for many years, said Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), the committee's chair, but he expected that the VA would adapt to meet the mental health needs of those and all veterans.

Veterans Counseling Hotline - 1-866-VETS-NJ4U

On April 13, Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General of New Jersey and Colonel (Ret) Stephen Abel, Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs along with John J. Petillo, Ph.D., President, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and Christopher Kosseff, President and CEO, University Behavioral HealthCare (UMDNJ) to announce the creation of a new, mental health helpline for veterans returning from service in Southwest Asia.

The new toll free number will provide immediate assistance to veterans suffering from psychological or emotional distress as well as those having difficulty re-assimilating back into civilian life following the conclusion of their mobilization for active duty service.

The toll free helpline, which is accessible 24/7 by dialing 1-866 VETS-NJ4U (1-866-838-7654) will be coordinated by UMDNJ's University Behavioral HealthCare, and will feature peer counseling, clinical assessment, assistance to family members and will provide New Jersey veterans and their families with access to a comprehensive Mental Health Provider Network of mental health professionals specializing in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other veterans issues. All services are free and confidential.

Teen Line: 1-800-443-8336 1-800-735-2942 (TT/TTY) 24 hours a day, Confidential, Free!

Provides Peer-to-peer counseling for teen in the following areas:      * Health    * Eating/Weight    * Relations with Parents or Friends

    * Violence     * AIDS/HIV     * Alcohol or Drug Use     * Sexual Relationships     * Birth Control/Pregnancy     * Stress

    * Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The line is a service of the Iowa Department of Public Health and answered 24 hours a day through a contract with Iowa State University Extension.

Effectiveness of a peer counselor hotline for the elderly Nancy Losee, Stephen M. Auerbach *, Iris Parham Virginia Commonwealth University

*Correspondence to Stephen M. Auerbach, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284

Funded by:

Administration on Aging (DHHS); Grant Number: #03AT106


The effectiveness of a crisis hotline using elderly peer counselors was evaluated. Use of the agency's telephone services by callers over the age of 60 increased significantly with implementation of the hotline. Follow-up data obtained from callers indicated that the hotline successfully addressed caller problems in a significant proportion of cases and that those who contacted the service were generally well satisfied. Volunteers who achieved higher levels of Technical Effectiveness (TE) after training were more effective in helping callers resolve their problems and in generating appropriate referrals, but did not produce greater subjective feelings of satisfaction in callers. The reverse finding was obtained for volunteers who attained high levels of Clinical Effectiveness (CE) after training. Results are discussed in terms of the extent to which technical and clinical elements should be incorporated into elderly hotline volunteer-training programs, the utility of the TE and CE scales, and considerations regarding the need for elderly peer counselors in such a setting.

Fenway’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Helpline and The Peer Listening Line are anonymous and confidential phone lines that offer gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults and youths a “safe place” to call for information, referrals, and support. In addition to issues like coming out, HIV/AIDS, safer sex and relationships, our trained volunteers also address topics such as locating GLBT groups and services in their local area.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Helpline


Toll-free - 888-340-4528

Peer Listening Line 617-267-2535 Toll-free - 800-399-PEER

You can receive help, information, referrals, and support for a range of issues without being judged or rushed into any decision you are not prepared to make. Across the country, Fenway's HelpLines are a source of support. Talk to our trained volunteers about safer sex, coming out, where to find gay-friendly establishments, HIV and AIDS, depression, suicide, and anti-gay/lesbian harassment and violence. No matter what is on your mind, we are here to encourage and ensure you that you are not alone.

 Chart #1

Government Owned vs. Privately Owned Hotlines

             Government Owned

Privately Owned

Fewer people will call if they know the hotline is owned and controlled by the government More people are likely to call and trust a privately owned hotline that promises confidentiality.
The government sends rescue in the form of police. KBHC advocates the use of our which connects the crisis center to trained emergency psychiatric rescue teams.
The government has no transparency or proof that they are not storing or compiling data on callers. KBHC’s Board of Directors has adopted a policy that mandates purging of our data on a monthly basis.
The Government cannot assure funding past the current fiscal year or current administration. KBHC created and built the Hopeline Network and remains dedicated to support the line as its primary mission.
The government does not disclose to the public that it owns and controls the suicide hotline. The real decision makers are not known or available to the public. KBHC discloses it Board of Directors who are the decision makers in all matters concerning the Hopeline Network.
The government does not have Congressional Authority to own and or operate a suicide hotline. KBHC’s entire incorporated mission legally binds it to the work of connecting people in crisis to community-based crisis centers.
The government typically runs programs in a slow and unresponsive bureaucratic manner. KBHC is lean and responsive and takes immediate action to fix problems and move to meet the needs of the callers and the network.

Chart #2

Click on the image for a larger view--Line Graph Showing the Call Volume on the National Hopeline Network for the US and NY from July 2006-July 2008