I’ve always thought of myself as a great listener, but when I started training to take calls for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, I quickly realized I had a lot to learn.
I applied to volunteer for the local crisis center in Texas as a way to beef up my résumé for grad school applications (I want to become a counselor). But to be honest, I didn’t know much about suicide or mental health going into it. After making it through a round of interviews, it was on to the 10-week training portion. I learned what real “active listening” looks like: constantly avoiding making the conversation about yourself and granting the person on the phone control of their own situation instead of trying to tell them what to do. (Related: Olivia Munn Just Posted a Powerful Message About Suicide On Instagram)
I was nervous when it came time to answer my first call, and I still get nervous sometimes.