Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline

Personal losses prompt West Side resident to volunteer at suicide hotline

Wendy Ban was devastated when her mother took her own life in 1969, but she did the best she could to deal with it.

“Life went on,” she said.

When her husband, Don, killed himself in 2008, though, her well of self-help was dry.

“Nothing prepares you for a second suicide,” Ban said. “At that point, I found I needed more help than I could provide for myself.”

The West Side resident joined a support group, Survivors of Suicide, and in 2010 she started volunteering for the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The hotline, which is funded by the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County and run by North Central Mental Health Services, received more than 16,000 calls last year.

Hannah Thompson, coordinator of Suicide Prevention Services, said the group has 150 to 200 volunteers at a given time, but about half of those are substitutes and don’t pull a regular shift at the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week hotline.

Thompson also said that “compassion fatigue” and burnout can affect volunteers, who undergo 50 hours of training before being asked to commit to work six hours a week for their first six months. After that, they can drop back to three hours weekly or become a substitute.

The Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached at 614-221-5445. Texting is available Monday through Friday, noon to 10 pm.

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