Out of Service

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.

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2 thoughts on “Out of Service

  1. Go back to your doctor and tell him the number is no longer in service. you never know who the next person he’s going to give it out to is. It might be a person who IS in a serious crisis and really doesn’t need to be told the number is no longer working.

  2. It turned out to be the number for Mental Health. When I spoke to them later in the day (they phoned me), the man gave me the number for Daniel to phone. I told him what had happened and he said that he’d have his boss look into it, but it is the correct number.

    Daniel didn’t phone the number that night, Mental Health phoned him, so I don’t know if it would have worked the second time. Maybe it was a Telstra problem?

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