In a crisis, the last words a person dialling a helpline needs to hear is “This number is temporarily out of service”. This is exactly what I heard when I phoned the number the doctor gave me. I can imagine the reaction of a person in crisis. It would be another reason to go ahead with the thoughts rumbling around in their head. I know this because I felt deflated upon hearing those words.
However, I am not a person in crisis and I decided to reach out and phone Compassionate Friends instead. The woman listened to what I had to say, she gave me a couple of numbers for support in my area, then said she would make some enquiries and get back to me. Ten minutes later the phone rang and I had a counsellor from Westmead Forensic Health talking to me. This woman said that I had done the right thing in reaching out, that it was important to do something and talk to someone. She gave me more numbers for counselling for myself, but said she would organise something for Daniel. She could cut through the red tape and get something happening sooner, rather than later.
I could have easily sat back defeated after the “out of service” message, and for those who are in the depth of despair that might be exactly what they would have done. Where would the help come from then? Why was an important phone number out of service? Don’t they realise that lives can depend upon talking to someone now? Later might be too late. Why wasn’t an alternative number given? All of these things could make a difference between life and death.