After losing his job, Mike became homeless. He had experienced depression in the past, but living on the streets triggered serious suicidal thoughts. One night, his desperation reached a boiling point. He gathered the courage to call the crisis line and shared his thoughts of suicide.
A volunteer answered the call. Within an hour, a team of Mobile Crisis Outreach counselors met with Mike in person. Together, they decided a few nights’ stay in a crisis bed would be the best fit. There, he was able to recover in a home-like atmosphere where someone could watch out for him.
In areas where mobile crisis teams don’t exist or law enforcement is unaware of it, many people experiencing suicidal ideation end up in hospital or jail. In many cases, this is not the appropriate setting and actually prevents people from receiving the help they need. The Crisis Center’s clients were diverted from the hospital 84 percent of the time and none necessitated jail. At the same time, mobile crisis saves money. Crisis stabilization costs one-third of what inpatient hospitalization costs and dispatching counselors costs 23 percent less than law enforcement response.
Another aspect of crisis intervention many programs don’t address is what comes after the immediate crisis. Discharge is a period of extremely high risk for suicidal clients. Studies show that, during this time, clients’ risk of suicide is an estimated 100 times greater than the general population. Additionally, 70 percent of suicide attempt survivors never attend their first psychological appointment after their attempt, making them significantly more likely to later die by suicide.
The Crisis Center’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Program is there to help those individuals connect with the ongoing services they need to stay alive, when they don’t have the strength to go through these difficult and frustrating processes on their own. Counselors advocate on behalf of clients, helping them navigate these bureaucratic systems by making calls, transporting them, checking in, meeting with family members, and attending appointments over whatever period of time the client needs. Follow up services were provided for almost 80 percent of clients, most of whom received more than one follow-up contact.
“They come to trust us and realize we have their best interest at heart,” said Rochelle Honey-Arcement, Mobile Crisis Outreach Coordinator. “They know we care and will do what it takes to get them the services they need.”
After leaving the crisis bed, counselors met with Mike for several weeks and helped him apply for community services—mental health services, health benefits, and social security. Though he still did not have stable housing for several weeks, Mike kept every one of his mental health appointments.
“This human connection, developed by our commitment and compassion, is what enables our clients to begin to have hope, and that they need to not only move away from suicidal thought, but to want to pursue engaging with life again,” said Annalee Moody, a counselor.
A month after Mike contemplated suicide, he obtained supported housing and has been applying for new jobs. Mike said he felt relieved to have a place to stay and thankful for the providers dedicated to helping him continue to improve his life.