I Secret Shopped #988 and Three Cop Cars Showed Up Outside My House

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Editor’s Note, 11/27/23: This article was edited to clarify that although geolocation is not technically in use by #988, it can still be used to track callers through a partnership with #911.

#988 first appeared in a report to Congress in August 2019 wherein Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff proposed it as a nationwide, easy-to-remember calling code for people who were suicidal or otherwise in emotional distress. Approximately one year later in July 2020, the FCC adopted rules to begin establishing #988, and in October of the same year, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law. Additional rules were adopted in November 2021 that required #988 to also be available by text.

Since then, many have spoken about #988 like it’s the next new cure. The rollout has been a big deal met with plenty of fanfare, and hundreds of implementation meetings across the nation. Webinars, conferences, and marketing plans have also centered it. More than one state in the US has introduced legislation to get #988 on the back of student ID cards, and on signage near bridges. At least two states have introduced legislation suggesting signs be posted at the top of multi-level garages that read “You are not alone” followed by those increasingly infamous numbers: 9-8-8.

But Does #988 Really Live up to the Hype?

Spoiler Alert: For the “too long/didn’t read” set, I’ll boil it down. No, #988 is not some grand fix to all our suicidal ills. There are inevitably some times when someone answering #988 has been helpful to someone calling in distress. But, on the whole, it appears to be more of the same system that’s been failing us, just on a much bigger “more accessible” scale. Although it professes to divert calls away from carceral responses, there’s evidence it may actually be increasing involuntary interventions. In my own case, it landed me with three cop cars outside my house, and my needing to do a bit of a verbal dance to get them on out of there without further negative consequence while my 11-year-old freaked out in the background.

When evaluating #988, there are so many questions worth considering:

  • Is #988 actually something different, or is it just the same old stuff repackaged?
  • Was access really the biggest problem with the way things were?
  • Is something always better than nothing?

To some degree, the answers to those questions will depend on who you ask, but it’s not all a matter of opinion. Too often, the public tries to opinion away what are actually facts, and there are some real facts worth considering on this matter.

Vibrant Says…

Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant) is described as “one of the nation’s leading mental health organizations.” They are also the administrator of #988. In October, 2022, I had the opportunity to attend #CRISISCON in Kansas City, Missouri, and listen to a plenary presentation from Vibrant administrators about how great everything was going. (This is also the same conference where I listened to a workshop presenter go on at length about the “suicide tumor,” but that’s a story for another time.)

The presenters had slides dedicated to the positive feedback they were receiving from people calling in. According to them, people were, of course, very, very satisfied.

[FACT ALERT]  At some point, I asked them to address the reality that people are routinely found to lie when responding to questions about how helpful a particular support was to them (they are inclined to say it was helpful even when it was not, and likely even more so when their freedom might hang in the balance). Vibrant ignored me.

As if to prove my point, a CNN article published one year later on October 31, 2023 reported the following:

“People with severe psychological distress were more likely than others to have heard of 988 and to have used the lifeline, according to research published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open. But overall, only a quarter of people said they would likely turn to 988 in the future if they or a loved one were experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidality – and less than a third of people with severe psychological distress who had already tried the lifeline were likely to use it again.”

Back at the conference, a smattering of folks across the presentation hall (filled with hundreds of conference goers) nodded or murmured in agreement with me when I challenged both that and the desirability of “geolocation.” (Geolocation is an approach that can help route calls to the geographically appropriate region based on the current location of the caller rather than simply on their phone number’s area code, but could also potentially be used to locate a specific person. It is not currently in use by #988 directly, but can still be accessed through partnerships with #911.) But, most stayed silent, except to offer me a chair because there are few groups more uncomfortable with my taking off my shoes and sitting on the floor in a crowded conference center than a roomful of clinicians.

I left the talk feeling like I was being sold on something. Marketed to. I still wasn’t buying it.

Secret Shopping Isn’t Just for Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds

I was around 20 when I first got involved in the world of Secret Shopping (aka Mystery Shopping). Secret Shopping basically involves showing up to a particular business and posing as a regular customer while taking notes (and sometimes pictures) for a report. It’s meant to be used as a training tool for employees, though occasionally also serving as a method to evaluate specific workers for bonuses (I try to stay away from those ones as it feels oppressive to me).

Over the years, I’ve completed hundreds of mystery shops at Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, and various bank branches. I’ve stayed at hotels and timeshares, ate at fancier restaurants, took an exam to become certified as a dental hygienist, learned about truck driving school, and was once even drug tested at an occupational health facility all under the secret shopping umbrella. But never have I ever ‘secret shopped’ anything in the ‘mental health’ world before. That was about to change.

Early on, when I first heard about #988, I decided to recruit for a group that would be willing to embark on a secret shopping experiment with the line itself. However, the overwhelm of the pandemic kept me from following through. Yet, as I contemplated the heavy Vibrant presence at CrisisCon 2022, I decided to do a little ‘shopping’ on my own.

Sueanne

It was Wednesday, October 19, 2022. I decided to try texting #988 rather than call. It’d make the ‘secret shopping’ piece a bit easier to start.

Sueanne was my first.

“Hello, my name is Sueanne. How can I support you today?”

Sueanne pretty immediately started asking me questions about whether or not I was suicidal (something about which I’d already been questioned a la an autoresponder at the start). I pushed back, and asked why Sueanne was asking those questions.

Sueanne: “Because this is a suicide chat line, these are questions we need to ask.”

Me: “Well, what if I don’t want to answer?”

Sueanne: “That is your choice.”

Okay. Not bad. Sueanne switches gears:

“Can you tell me why you are tired, and you don’t see a way out?”

This was a reflection of how I’d answered when asked how Sueanne could “support” me. As stilted as it was in its way, it at least reflected an attempt to use my language. However, it wasn’t long before Sueanne resorted to the same old “you should get a therapist” recommendation. Willingness to just be present and validate was limited.

This may have been because Sueanne was talking to up to ten people at a time.

Yes, the main thing I learned from Sueanne—who was sometimes taking as much as four or five minutes to respond to me—was that #988 text responders can talk to multiple people at once.

It showed.

Simone

I tried #988’s texting feature again later that same day. Simone was my second.

It’s hard to say much about Simone, though, because right after I was asked about being suicidal, the call dropped.

The end.

Taylor

Since attempt number two was kind of a bust, I gave it a third go. This time I got Taylor. Taylor was actually the highlight of my #988 experience, at least to date. Sure, there were some scary questions early on like:

“Can you tell me where you are now?”

But, when I gave a vague answer, Taylor didn’t push. And, when I said things that might have sent some folks into a suicide-prevention-driven panic for reading too much into my words… like “I’m just so tired. I wish I could just sleep”… Taylor simply explored what was going on, and if I was having trouble with insomnia. I was then offered a couple of web resources, and encouragement to check things out with my doctor to see if there might be a medical cause to my inability to sleep.

Taylor even apologized for the disconnect that had happened with Simone earlier, and thanked me for being willing to take a risk and try again. Mental health system providers rarely apologize, so that was meaningful even if only a small thing.

Toward the end of the interaction, Taylor walked me through creation of a ‘safety plan.’ This segment of our call started with an awkward question:

“Are you able to stay safe from suicide tonight?”

That honestly felt a little disconnecting, but Taylor saved things with one of the more skillful responses I’ve heard out of a suicide prevention line.

Me: “I mean what would you do if I said no or I wasn’t sure? I don’t want anyone trying to take control or lock me up or something.”

Taylor: “I would ask if you would be open to making a plan to stay safe. I don’t want to take control from you either, My goal is to keep you safe in the least intrusive way possible.”

Me: What does a plan like that look like?

Taylor: “It usually includes identifiable stressors, ways to distract yourself, social supports, professional supports, a safe place and one thing to remember when you are in crisis. We could do an abbreviated plan since you are so tired.”

I said okay, and Taylor walked me through a handful of questions like identifying two hobbies or activities that help me relax, and something I’d want to be reminded of when suicidal thoughts get bigger. When Taylor asked me to identify people I could reach out to, and I said I really didn’t have anyone, Taylor didn’t balk.

“That is ok, not every plan looks the same. Do you think that you would be open to reaching back out to #988 … if you were in crisis again?”

I said “I guess,” and Taylor accepted that.

At the end, Taylor sent me a summary of the plan. I noticed something that didn’t reflect what I’d said, and Taylor corrected it. We said our goodbyes and the call ended.

All told, the interaction was pretty good… though given subsequent interactions, I have to wonder what Taylor would have done if I hadn’t said I was out of town, or hadn’t been willing to engage in safety planning.

In truth, I don’t actually find ‘safety plans’ all that useful. Frankly, they can be pretty annoying and further exhausting when I’m already exhausted from being in a dark place. Safety plans also have the potential to be shaming and lead to secret-keeping if, for example, the plan suggests we shouldn’t do something that we end up doing (or never really felt committed to not do in the first place).

In the end, I was doing the plan for Taylor’s sake, not mine. Appeasing the provider – especially if the person receiving services likes, feels sorry for, or is afraid of them – is a surprisingly common thing that people in the ‘patient’ role do.

Gretchen

I texted #988 again on Thursday, October 20 while I was sitting and listening to another plenary presentation at CrisisCon.

“You’ve reached #988, this is Gretchen, what’s on your mind today?”

I decided to focus on self-injury this time.

My conversation with Gretchen didn’t go well overall, but I will give credit where credit is due. Before we even got through more than two questions, Gretchen said something I don’t recall seeing from others with whom I’d spoken:

“I am glad you reached out for support today. Our conversation will be confidential, however I do need to inform you that we have an obligation to protect you or someone else if we learn of serious risk of harm, or if the law requests us to disclose the information.”

Okay, at least there was some transparency. That said, as I began to challenge Gretchen on running through the standard suicide assessment questions in a way that seemed like a ‘cut and paste,’ the theme of “if you can’t stay safe, we might have to act” continued to surface.

“I understand how it can seem like cut and paste. That is because it is and it is a requirement for each counselor to ask. I do not have any plans to send anyone to you to take you away unless you are actively harming yourself or feel you are not able to keep yourself safe.”

The door to talk about self-injury had been opened, and so I walked through it.

“I mean I’m cutting myself but that’s not the same as suicide. You don’t send people for that do you? This is feeling scary.”

Gretchen ignored my question, and instead replied:

“Can we put down what you are using to cut and move away from it so we can talk more about how you are feeling?”

I didn’t care for the ‘we’ language. I received it as condescending and paternalistic. So, in a moment of wit, I feigned surprise and told Gretchen I didn’t know that Gretchen was cutting, too, and while we were both free to stop, I wasn’t going to. Gretchen wasn’t amused. I kept pushing, and frankly, trying to educate a bit, too.

Me: “We can talk whether or not I stop can’t we?”

Gretchen: “We can, can you share with me what is keeping you from putting down what you are using to cut with?”

Me: “Because it helps. I guess I’m curious why you think its important to put it down.”

Gretchen: “I find it important for you to put it down because I want to be able to keep you safe and find different activities to use that maybe able to help.”

Gretchen didn’t take the cue to move on from the self-injury talk, and kept pushing, and centering the responsibility for my ‘safety’ in others, rather than myself. This was a familiar approach. I needed someone to ‘keep me safe.’ I was powerless here.

This was hitting close to home. It was basically the same sort of conversation I’d had with a therapist who ultimately forced me into a psychiatric facility over “keeping me safe” from self-injury that she (incorrectly) perceived to mean I was high risk for suicide.

The biggest problem? That was more than 25 years ago.

Apparently, nothing has changed.

Jen

I lapsed on my secret shopping mission for several months. Maybe because things with Gretchen had too many echoes of my history of involuntary trips to psychiatric facilities. Maybe because I just got busy. Maybe a little bit of both.

However, on Friday, June 2nd, 2023—during a virtual meeting with fellow advocates where the #988 topic arose—I felt inspired to give it a go again.

“Hi I’m Jen, I am glad you reached out to #988 today. Is there a name you would like me to use while we talk or you may remain anonymous?”

I immediately said I’d remain anonymous. Jen accepted that (“Of course.”) and asked me “What made you chat in today?”

I decided to push the limits. Again, I was suicidal, and when asked if I had a plan, I said I had a lot of pills.

Jen: “Do you have them now?”

Me: “Yes”

Jen: “How about putting them somewhere else while we talk? Maybe in another room?”

Me: “No, thanks. Right now self injuring is helping.”

Jen: “What are you doing to self-harm right now?”

Me: “Cutting”

Jen: “How about we talk about some safer ways to help?”

This was Gretchen all over again. Maybe worse.

[FACT ALERT] I get that self-injury scares people, but shouldn’t individuals in the business of offering this type of support have learned some better ways to respond by now? If someone says something is helping, explore how it’s working for them. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. Don’t just jump to trying to take it away. And especially, don’t go there when that person is in the midst of a crisis. What a terrible and downright dangerous idea.

I pushed and tried to educate again.

Me: “If this works, why would it make sense to stop it?”

Jen: “In order to more safely cope with what is going on in a way that does not cause you harm.”

Me: “Look, this is working for me right now. Your idea of ‘safe’ would put me at more risk of dying.”

Jen let it go at that point, and finally asked why I was self-injuring. Now we’re getting somewhere. But, truth be told, I was trying to respond more or less as I would if I were really in the crisis I described. Having to defend the self-injury once again made me tired and sad for how little progress has been made over so many years.

Before too long, Jen circled back.

“You mentioned earlier that you were cutting and it was helping. I want to ensure you and I can continue talking so I can best support you. Are you currently bleeding?”

I said I was, and Jen asked if I needed medical attention. I was clear that I did not. I found myself wondering—just as Taylor had suggested sleep resources for insomnia, what if Jen had offered information on safer self-injury? My guess is that Jen has no idea such harm reduction resources exist.

I decided I really wanted to end the conversation. I resisted Jen’s not-so-subtle effort to get me to name some future plans to signal I planned to keep existing. Unlike Taylor with whom I’d been able to develop a little bit of trust and rapport, I had no such feelings with Jen.

Me: “Bye.”

Jen: “I just want to make sure I understand, do you want me to end this interaction now?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Jen: “We are here for you 24/7 if you want to reach out to us again.”

The call ended. Shortly thereafter, I left my office in Holyoke, Massachusetts, drove a town over, picked up my child from school and went home.

My call with Jen had ended at 4:41pm. Well over an hour later as I’m at home making dinner for my 11-year-old, I hear a loud pounding sort of knock on my front door. It’s the kind of knock that can be associated with few other than the police.

My mind starts racing. I was at work when I called!  The phone I used is registered to my employer’s address! How did they find me here? I said I wanted to stay anonymous. It’s been a while since that call ended. Why would they be coming now? Jen said “We are here for you 24/7 if you want to reach out to us again!” If Jen was thinking of sending someone, why didn’t that get said, or at least some concern expressed about signing off?

I walk to the front door and open it. There’s a police officer standing there, with three cop cars parked on the street in front of my house. He asks me to step outside. My 11-year-old is alarmed and asking why the police are there. I suspect my child thinks it has to do with the fact that they’ve been refusing to see their father in spite of court ordered parenting time. I feel really bad that they’re worried.

The police officer tells me what I already had surmised: They’d come to do a wellness check on me because of my conversation with #988. He motions to the other cops to hold their position, seemingly barely keeping them at bay at the edge of my driveway. Clearly – and in spite of Jen suggesting I would get to remain ‘anonymous’ if it was my wish – they’d just looked up my number, found it associated with my name (which they already had when they greeted me at my door), looked up my home address and were on their way. (Well, over an hour later… which leaves me wondering what they really thought they were going to accomplish if I’d actually been on the verge of making an attempt.)

I decided on the fly that things would probably go better for me if I came up with a story other than secret shopping, so I told them that I’d been at work and had been supporting someone else that I’d allowed to use my phone to dial #988. That wasn’t enough. They wanted proof of where I worked. I thought fast and searched for a flyer on Facebook of an event where I’d spoken earlier that week. I handed my phone to the officer so he could see my image and bio on the flyer stating where I work and verifying at least that part of my story.

The cops leave. I go inside and my child questions me. I explain more or less what happened. My child looks at me incredulously and says, “They sent the cops because they thought someone was suicidal?”

Yes. Yes, they sure did.

The Real Risk of Harm

I talked my way out of this “wellness check” just like I did back in 2019 when the ASIST Suicide Prevention trainers called the cops on me after I posted an angry statement on Facebook criticizing their behavior and suggesting that it was such actions that led people to kill themselves rather than reach out for help. But, what of people who can’t talk their way out either because they don’t have the experience to know the right words, or because they’re truly in a moment of struggle?

In order to have that conversation we need to consider not only the short-term impact of being taken by police and incarcerated involuntarily in a psychiatric facility, but the long-term outcomes associated with that having happened.

Not long after my incident with Jen, a debate ensued on a listserv to which I subscribe about the efficacy of #988. One person exclaimed:

I am not troubled by the increase in hospitalizations. The upside of the involuntary hospitalization numbers is that fewer people are likely dead of suicide. Many others are receiving the care they need. 

There are so many assumptions wrapped up in that. He continued:

Let’s admit that the post-call fate of the individuals referred for care (voluntary or not) is not known. Are these people still alive, are they in a recovery process, is their life better? We have no data one way or another. 

[FACT ALERT] He’s wrong about that. There’s actually a growing body of evidence that says that suicide risk stays elevated for as long as two years after being held on a locked psychiatric unit, particularly when the stay was involuntary. In fact, recent research also suggests that even when there’s the perception of coercion—never mind outright force—suicide risk increases.

Furthermore, a high percentage of people who experience this sort of ‘intervention’ (along with those who witness or are aware of the potential) simply don’t feel it’s safe to reach out to anyone at all.

Not Just Secret Shopping

On July 29, 2023, just past midnight, Emily Wu Truong called #988. She was in search of emotional support after having just been faced with a moment of extreme shock. She was experiencing suicidal thoughts, but had no plan to act on them.

Unfortunately, while nationally recognized organizations like Didi Hirsch continue to make claims that only a small percentage of #988 calls will result in a 911-type intervention, there are clear signs they are minimizing the reality. For Emily, her #988 call led quickly to involuntarily hospitalization that lasted for 50 hours. She was held against her will in a local Emergency Room and then transferred to Kaiser’s psychiatric facility on College Street in Los Angeles, California. She was deemed a potential suicide risk by an officer from the Arcadia Police Department (APD) who used little time or skill to draw that conclusion. (Emily was later able to confirm that the APD had received no recent relevant training.)

This incident followed close on the heels of other unhelpful #988 exchanges Emily had previously had. For example, in February 2023, she’d texted #988 to inquire about support groups in Asian languages. The person answering the text inquiry (“Cam”) didn’t explore at all if Emily was struggling or seeking the groups for herself or others, and disconnected the call while Emily was still attempting to converse.

Such prior interactions had already left Emily questioning #988’s promises of help, but her July interaction left her horrified and traumatized. On September 5, 2023, Emily shared her story with California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). A moderator cut Emily short in the midst of a tearful moment, after which she was thanked for her input. It was unclear how seriously anyone at the meeting took her statement.

As a result of what happened, Emily has lost complete confidence in a system whose intention should be to create conditions that support people’s lives and ease their pain. Out of ignorance, the California legislature created the Welfare & Institutions Code, which broadens the number of people with limited training who can take away anyone’s individual freedoms without question. There was no due process for Emily. There weren’t even any mental health clinicians present when first responders decided to take her into custody. Every single person involved with the 5150 process (the California code that allows for the detention of individuals perceived to be “mentally disordered” and at immediate risk)—and like processes in other states—risks becoming complicit in harming already-traumatized people, too often leaving lifelong emotional scars.

Emily’s traumatic experiences from this 5150 has also left her facing demands for payment of over $2,800 from different agencies related to the hospitalization to which she never consented. These agencies have set a deadline of December 31, 2023 for payment. If not paid, these agencies have indicated that the bills will be sent to collections and affect her credit score.

Little is more telling of the impact of this #988 incident than Emily’s own words on her Facebook page:

I can never trust the so-called mental healthcare or healthcare system. The system has nothing to do with health nor care! I am sooooo effing traumatized that I will never ever call #988 again nor use 911 ever. I choose to die in my own home.”

Emily is far from alone. Her horrifying experience has left her feeling doubtful that the system will ever change. However, her newfound faith in spirituality leads her to try to remain hopeful and continue educating others about how broken the system is, and how much we need to come together to change it for the wellness of our entire community.

Back to the Beginning

At the start of this piece I said there were three things worth evaluating when looking at #988:

  • Is #988 actually something different, or is it just the same old stuff repackaged?
  • Was access really the biggest problem with the way things were?
  • Is something always better than nothing?

The answers now seem clear. #988 isn’t something different. It’s just a lot more of the same. While #988 is under no particular obligation to be the alternative for which many of us yearn, one has to wonder if it is sucking up all the funding oxygen that might support some of those alternatives to exist?

Meanwhile, access has surely been an issue, but we need to continuously ask, “Access to what?” That matters at least as much, because no, sometimes something isn’t better than nothing.

If that something takes your freedom and teaches you that silence is the only choice, it can actually be much, much worse.

Epilogue

I want to acknowledge that—since I’ve begun sharing this story—some people have been quite upset to learn that I’ve been “secret shopping” #988. They fear I’m taking up needed #988 bandwidth for folks who have a valid reason for calling (they are truly in crisis), and one person also worried that #988 workers’ feelings might be hurt by my method of collecting data. These folks have suggested various alternative approaches such as calling the people who operate #988 lines to ask if I can sit in on calls, or role play out with them how they’d handle a situation. In response, I offer the following:

Checking out what #988 is like so I can support my community to make an informed decision about whether or not to call is a valid reason, especially given all that is at stake. Period.

There are many people who will never call a line that poses a threat to their freedom. That point routinely gets lost in these conversations. Folks who fear calling #988 deserve support, too.

I’m not going to call #988 administrators to beg them to give me the information I’m seeking. If #988 administrators valued the input of people like myself, they would have asked for it in the first place. In most areas, they did not. I have no reason to trust they’d be responsive or honest in what they did provide, especially when all signs point to them doing their best to market #988 as an invaluable service. I’m not going to work extra hard to get through the front door, when I can get much more timely and honest answers going in the back.

I also can’t muster much care for the hurt feelings of people who hold enough power that they can have cops show up at my doorstep contemplating whether or not to take my freedom away. They should be far more accountable to their actions than they are, and if they are sad about that, it’s just not my problem.

I promise you, I’m not calling a lot. No more than I’ve stated here. There’s plenty of space left for people in actual crisis (for better or worse).

But… I will be calling again… Once I have a burner phone!

 

Contributing Editor’s Credit – Emily Wu Truong: Emily Wu Truong is a 2nd generation Taiwanese American mental health advocate, community organizer, an award-winning storyteller for emotional resilience and healing, visual and performance artist. Since 2010, her efforts to raise community mental health awareness have helped to educate thousands across the country to find meaning in their life struggles and become more understanding of individuals with emotional struggles. Emily’s story has been featured by the California Mental Health Movement Each Mind Matters, Fox 11 News, Good Morning America, NBC Asian America, LA 18 and the World Journal Chinese Daily News (世界日報). Emily has been recognized for her grassroots advocacy from Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Senator Ed Hernandez, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Assemblyman Ed Chau & Assemblyman Mike Eng. Currently, Emily serves as a steering committee member for NAAPIMHA’s National Asian American Pacific Islander Empowerment Network (NAAPIEN) to provide safe spaces for marginalized AANHPIs in a world that is less compassionate. Emily also serves as a support group facilitator for the NAMI Greater Los Angeles County also known as NAMI. Emily has become a role model for many, sharing her life lessons to encourage others to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Thank God I’ve got first comment here. Emily Wu Truong is my newest hero. Survivor. So far. If she can avoid the depredations of the predators in the so-called “community mental health centers”, which I believe she can and will, if she avoids them like the plague that they are. This is what politicians and bureaucrats such as my Mayoral opponent Jay Kahn promote. Money, power, and a cold, uncaring, inhumane “mental health” system. No truly whole healthy and happy person is EVER LOCKED UP….only the sick, alone, and scared. We are a society which treats traumatized dogs and cats better than actual hurting humans in crisis….Ask me how I KNOW….
    votebradfordhutchinsonmayor.com

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  2. Ugh I got secret shopped once. I was super nice to the lady, we had a pleasant conversation, but i wasnt verbatim and robotic and therefore failed. Hello, how may I help you? May I further help you? Thank you for shopping :] :] beep boop :] :] god retail sucked.

    Brave to secret shop 988 though, thats really poking the bear. I consider them to be monsters.

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  3. Thanks Sera for being so brave. I have thought of doing that but no and not surprised at the result and glad you were able to talk your way out.
    I was gobsmacked when I first learned the existence of mental wellness checks and the ability for anyone to call up 911 and report a concern whether valid or not.
    There was zero Public Heakth education and sometimes dispatchers are not adequately trained or knowledgeable to handle a strange person reporting another unknown person possible issue.
    The new number and agency creates as you have shown so well further ethical and moral issues.
    And the continuing fear base in our communities with added isms as well.
    The only way I can see changing any of this is at least level the playing field and having everyone seen as a survivor or witness to some emotionally challenging experience in life. There are so many issues of power and control here. I always thought stand alone place of safety with tools available open twenty four seven and open to anyone and everyone to chill in whatever way best suits them would at least be better than the calls.
    I also because I have been called on woukd like research into who are these people that call and why? At least fir the mental wellness checks and if they have a phonevwhy can’t they call that person or go over and discuss the issue at hand. It gives cover and invisible cloaca to those that call and never anyway to either process or resolve the why by the person who was incarcerated in the psych unit.

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  4. Courageous study, Sera. I have long felt forced hospitalization is ableist, whether for emotional, mental, or neurological issues. How anyone could think it’s helpful is beyond me. People get dehumanized, sexually abused, arbitrarily restrained, denied intimacy, restricted communication, held at length for profit, drugged and electroshocked without informed consent and sometimes forcefully, and lose their livelihoods, fail their classes, fear for or even lose their kids and pets. “No” is a dangerous word and people do a ton out of fear of their doctor they would never do otherwise.

    That’s not love; it’s violence. It’s horror. And it has no place in a civil society. Unfortunately the U.S. doesn’t care about international human rights guidelines. (The UN and WHO oppose coercion in mental health.) Healthcare industry donors are more important to those in power, despite there being cheaper, more humane, voluntary programs proven to work.

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  5. These hotlines are blastin evil and I’m sick of them being posted everywhere so random people and authorities can give themselves a pat on the back.

    We need more people to speak out against the maliciousness of the psychiatric industry in a capitalist system in general – but it starts with the use of these trashy hotlines as a first line of defense. I have also seen professionals advocate for the use of AI as a similar screener because they are either ignorant or really don’t care about invading your privacy. You can justify any weapon under the banner of “saving lives.” Even when you’re terrorizing them and squeezing them dry.

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  6. I’m a little puzzled by this article. Your community has been talking about the dangers of these kinds of numbers for a number of years. Is it really that surprising that calling this number and messing around with staff who you have already observed to be badly trained resulted in a suicide swat at your home? I did read it all the way through. I feel kind of bad for your 11 year old. It sounds like this was pretty upsetting for them.

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    • It wasn’t exactly surprising… Though on some level it still was for no good reason at all. And yes, I also regretted it for my 11-year-old’s sake. (They got over it quite quickly once they realized it had nothing to do with them, tho!)

      Regardless, it feels important to do this work. Saying we believe something is dangerous from past experience isn’t the same as having concrete proof. It’s just not.

      I’m going to be taking this article to a conference where all kinds of Vibrant folks will be present next week… If nothing else, it’ll be a bit gratifying to irritate them with it… But I do think there’s LOTS of people out there who just don’t get how dangerous this stuff is who might be open to hearing it and maybe not calling on their family member or what have you…

      So, yeah, demonstrating is different than talk!

      -Sera

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      • Sara and Steve:
        When I first read through Sara’s experiment, the idea behind the effort to be a 988 tester can be of interest though in a very strange way. If the reader thinks in terms of neural systems of law established by well meaning “others” who raise funds and political presence (a economy in motion based on more, not better), then the issues creating the poverty as a verb can be realized as a forced, artificial state of being created in response to the State sanctioning Democracy.

        Sara’s efforts triggered the legal system into an aroused state of alert with inevitable consequences. In part because of a failed systemic design of policy, the whole is failing the populations that awaken under the umbrella of “The Mentally Ill”. We do and can recover. And can notate and share our records to inform how gross errors were and are being made in the advancement of STEM and STEAM.

        There is no excuse for what is happening as a result of flawed reasoning.

        To try and understand the conditions that are creating “the unemployment” objectifies existence when many who read this site are “working” by being alive. The appropriate monetization or devaluing of one’s existence is an extension of the fluctuation within and outside of self and coporate organizations.

        Where are the boundaries? Sara referenced England’s NCBI (which is a fine reference). Another one I recently discovered is a reference to Robert Sapolsky who teaches at Standford University with an interest in neuron death. The Great Books DVD borrowed from the local library is worth a watch and maybe a rebuttal to his understanding then, but NOW in the incredible truths we are bringing forward. To be aware of the death of some of my neurons as well as regeneration of others hopefully adds to the Joy of learning how to 1) type better, 2) edit my struggle to convey some levels of learned artistry in motion and 3) a stimulus to deeply know the infinite gifts of LIFE shared this morning in not being mad in America this morning.

        Years ago I would realize a similar experiment though at the time I did not understand transportation planning and travel as I do now. In time, We, as a People within The People or outside of this context, can awaken further to help ring out the Democracy Robert Whitaker calls for this morning! Thanks to all!

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        • Thanks, Bill! I appreciate the recognition you offer of how much work it can be just to exist in this society, and how the current dominant societal interpretation of unemployment often fails to represent the layers of societal dysfunction and mis-prioritization of so many aspects of life.

          -Sera

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  7. Thanks for doing these experiments! Sadly your experience is pretty much what I’d expect. Very creepy how heavily 988 is marketed and touted as such a great intervention, when really it’s often more like a poorly camouflaged trap.

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  8. In my city, the local library’s number starts with 988. One actually had to first dial the area code, I found out, because I think at least twice I was assaulted with a very aggressive voice going on about a suicide hotline. All of us know what this is like, if you’ve ever been vulnerable to feeling like you’re being treated like trash that industrial strength machinery is shoveling off of the street, given the mental health system and it’s way of hiding what society does to people…..
    This is only a few years ago, and not having a cell phone, I could dial the number without the area code. I think TWICE ended up in the wrong place. I had forgotten this, and a few other things regarding such mainstream wiping over when real help is needed, and they are going to offer the psychological safety approach: “look we’re doing all of this, and there’s all this funding,” so that people don’t even look to see exactly WHAT they are doing, and whether it’s just a facade. People not even knowing the attraction is the facade, whether you end up in an office that’s fit for the pastel colors of a Hallmark card, or just that stimulant that one is doing SOMETHING!
    Before I actually got involved in the mental health system, I was distraught about something, social betrayal and weird stuff going on I didn’t understand that society was never going to help me to understand and is too much to get into, as this isn’t a whole book. I was sitting on my parent’s porch, and smoking and drinking coffee the whole night, which I knew wasn’t good for me. Clearly there wasn’t support at home really, even though my parents were both psychologists. I got it in my crazy head to think calling a suicide prevention line might help. I knew I wasn’t suicidal, but I was doing stuff that wasn’t food for my health. In fact, at no point was a suicidal. I thought I should do something, and clearly was a bit too much looking for something outside of me, with the whole motif that THAT would be a good thing to do.
    Somehow, I got referred to a place you could go to talk to people. The result being that I ended up in a room with two clinicians that acted more like military people with a take over in mind. It really made no sense talking to them, because the MAIN premise that initiated even LOOKING towards them for help (it wasn’t me being suicidal, it was me behaving in a way that in the end might affect my life) they were so brainwashed to look for symptoms and think someone needed help that: along with the phone ringing so many times interrupting their mania (I sometimes wondered whether this with Mother earth or GIA herself creating a defusion for their robotic behavior)… and I digressed to things beyond linear time that might be symbolic (slightly) but not anymore when interpreted. Stuff they called psychotic. They ended up actually calling a dream therapist I had (they had asked whether I had a therapist, or they wanted to talk to my parents, don’t remember exactly, and my parents not answering their phone maybe I told them about my dream helper). A friend of my mother’s that would talk to me about my dreams that I kept in a journal. She told them I was fine, lived with my parents, that she was helping me.
    And now CLEARLY this take on “mental illness” is a big sell. You have umpteen movies about it, the whole movement and celebrities from Lady Gaga to the ex-vice presidents wife going on about treatment. You become an icon a commodity in itself if you’re really part of the “mental health” system, and you’re supposed to support their… their (“there”, is that a wrong spelling) what? Scourge, Flood, Deluge, Massacre, Genocide..… their there, their there there, their
    Am I exaggerating?
    Must be I’m off my meds. The ones I never started on, huh?
    The stuff I regressed to actually was, in not being able to process certain themes in life, being that that’s life when it has meaning rather than being a robot, was what I already mentioned, how you become an object in so many ways: For Hollywood, for politics, for the “medical” establishment, for “society” thinking they’ve done something…..all quite regardless of the result………… Life has themes, that’s how it works. It’s like a natural ingredient for those that think.
    A certain celebrity I won’t name, who is “worth” half a billion, I had seen him zipping around with a cell phone, and thought he was going on about me. I had called the police about it. Just once. This is years ago (35?), before he was married and divorced, along with a couple of others, the same, I also won’t mention, that also in ways were intruding into my life, because I actually have a life. When you actually are one of the characters they are looking to exploit for their careers, when you’ve been through it, they REALLY can become extremely insensitive thinking they are going to help….
    I remember now talking with this “helpline” about such behavior, which was symbolic. THAT particular actor, must have heard about it, because he was jumping on the bench of a bus-stop telling some other people, as if it was something “cool.” Quite a few years pass, and he got married and divorced (The other two also married, divorced, and then married, and divorced again, in the long run, which I’m not EVEN making up in that it’s documented as “history”)…. I have to laugh, because in a Charles Dickens Novel you have such mirroring with characters. Not anything as cheap as that, but in My Mutual Friend you have two situations where there’s an attempt to ruin someone’s life, and both do the opposite, like Joseph whose brother thought he was just a dreamer. He, the one I was going on about, was playing tennis with a child somewhere, and I had been wondering about past lifetime stuff regarding him (had he been the wife of a son I had had a bit under 250 years ago, or something like that?), so I was gently talking to myself or anyone that could hear, while doing yoga close by the tennis court, and he got an erection, and just kept playing tennis. Riding my bike home, I actually for who knows what chance, passed his wife coming out onto a porch (they’re since divorced, which was quite a process for her to have to maneuver to get away from him and his “institution”), and SHE says to me: “I’m not a…” follows name-of-institution. Years pass. All sorts of behavior from other celebrities who can come into my city, not have paparazzi following them here, and do stuff they wouldn’t otherwise get into. Two to actors having done roles of a “schizophrenic” both not only acting like I’m part of their venture, but when I was open about memories of the name I use here, referring to me as such. Neither ever asked me about those memories, just acted like I was part of their repertoire. And both making intimate advances towards me, while avoiding such desires being out in the media. So-and-so is ACTUALLY sexually attracted to someone of the same sex!? In the meantime, not really reaching out to me as a human, more as a commodity. An object. Something they think they are equipped to help, as if they own it. I didn’t get involved with them. EITHER way. This went on all in between the years. Like 35 years, the span of Mozart’s life. And then this other one, who I had mentioned involving the cell phone, recently I’m simply in a coffee house, and he walks in there. I didn’t actually recognize him, then, only he looked like a typical robotic entrepreneur or aggressive businessman; but he sees me, and out of nowhere says to me: “get out of here.” I was really just sitting there playing with my cell phone, as I would get associations or thought regarding words in another language (I’m 1/8th Indonesian, and was interested in oriental languages). I didn’t recognize him at this time. When you’re like all of us are, you can be assaulted with the most extreme bigotry for who knows what reason, and so I simply ignored it, like you would the sound of the traffic outside. Then he actually said: “because I don’t like it.” I went on with my cell phone, and he left. Then the art museum. Because I get SNAP food benefits, I can get into the museum for free. And it’s healing. You can spend forever looking at the art. See whole worlds in it. See what’s left over from life that makes it always worthwhile. Everything is beauty. There was an exhibit with pictures, and I walked into that space, and this person (You Know Who) is there again and must have noticed me, because then there was a very aggressive rather high-pitched (for a “male”) ejaculation of: “get out of here, there aren’t any homeless in here.” I’m not homeless, and if I were this, wouldn’t bar me from the place. I suppose I’m supposed to feel threatened, but all I knew it was some manifestation of fear. I totally ignored his ejaculation, he fortunately just kept having interactions with a rather prickly woman he was with. I moved on to some pictures, with a couple of ladies looking at them. And there was somehow a bird in one picture. I don’t remember exactly, other than it looked a bit ghostly. And now this guy had just had a rather ghostly outburst. More what you’d expect from someone emotionally suppressed. I mentioned to the ladies: “Is that scary?” referring to the bird on the picture. They looked at me and nodded. I then told them how I have a friend, a healer that went to the concentration camps in Poland, and he helped to send the earth bound spirits into the light. When he had done this many birds appeared. The populace from the area didn’t know where the birds came from, and said after a while they disappeared. You can hear this friend of mine here talk about how when miracles happened around him as a child, a priest had him put in an asylum, as if the devil had given him special gifts, and the devil wouldn’t like the shock therapy, and he’d leave (what kind of a Priest was this, and what else was going on?): https://youtu.be/g9edB02jWP0?si=VvsNh3MOulM-52sR&t=723 And I moved on in the museum, not even thinking about this spout of aggression at me. All of us have had such directed at us, not because of us, but because this fairy tale people have invested in just isn’t secure, is it?, and they’re reminded of it, and we’re not going to take part when we know it’s not real……
    I went to a symphony concert, also because I get tickets when I have SNAP benefits. HE was there again, with another lady all decked out….I was rather crazy still, talking to myself about past lifetime stuff, and he actually left me alone, other than pulling a face as if I was being unrealistic, and investing in nonsense.
    I’ve integrated since regarding past lifetime stuff. Stuff beyond linear time that contains themes as elemental to life as are that the themes in fiction allowing the story to blossom. The stuff is real quiet and un-intrusive, actually. It requires a flow, a disinhibition that can be totally misunderstood as “psychosis,” or “non-reality based” thoughts. If people would just leave it alone or allow those who do have insight into it’s meaning to be there. There’s a lot of stuff that’s labeled unreal. What helped me integrate is beyond crazy. I was working on cadenzas for a couple of Mozart concerti. THAT is a lot of work, allowing the music freedom from the constraints of the time then present, and then coming back to what’s already there. Totally beyond linear time, like having a time machine. This had been going on more than a year, and I had really gotten so far I felt they were complete enough. Then there was this soft, quiet idea, one more variation of a theme that actually would be helped by having the legroom to express the need to find freedom one step further. But I was tired, and even though the quiet thoughts were there, the whole added space in forever, I just didn’t work it out. Then a miracle happened, one could say, although it’s simpler. I had an encounter with what I would term an angel amongst us, a composer that’s still in spirit. I think Beethoven. People again would say this is impossible, but it’s very natural for the Universe, has been going on before the earth formed. Jesus wasn’t the only one. A very interesting encounter with lots of poetry of things beyond their labels. This stimulated me, after talking about this to people, and the poetry for a day, and I actually integrated this one more variation. It was always the idea to give that one theme enough legroom to calm down. A child needing to play enough that whatever the play is for is given room. I did consequently go through a period again which could be deemed “psychotic,” but I’ve integrated also what was expressed. It’s not easy to gain perspective on one’s life, sometimes. Given society, what we’ve experienced that could be called trauma, what seems to hold one back. Sometimes I’ve thought my father was Beethoven’s nephew, who he tried to make into a great performer, and it didn’t work. The nephew tried to commit suicide and failed, and then Beethoven wrote his 9th symphony. With the Ode to Joy praying for world peace…….My father could be so controlling that you had to push your own thoughts to the side. You’d get anxious just knowing they could emerge, and he wouldn’t like it and react with the psychological games and aggression and co-dependence on would have to encounter. I’m surprised actually, how long it has taken to realize I had some reactions, such reflexes, such conditioned responses to send into the light. What’s more surprising is how little it means that I have such insights. You’d think that that would be valued, for healing, to help others, that the mental health system would value it, listen, etc.
    I don’t drink coffee anymore, or sit and smoke a whole night, even though it increases dopamine, like when one is getting OFF of neuroleptics, antipsychotics, or such…. But the whole “psychosis,” of thinking whoever was after me that over the years incurring really WERE predatory, insensitive and presumptuous, that’s hardly completely non reality based……
    And perhaps they actually were trying to figure it out. This whole melange of three different…
    There’s also a friend I had who was institutionalized, was told he had to see a therapist regularly. He felt that she was ruining his whole day, and so he didn’t go to one appointment. She called him up and offered a ride. I think maybe he just hung up on her. Then the police showed up, escorted him back to the asylum. THERE, they asked him: “Do you think someone is after you?”
    Which brings up (whose question was it?) “Sueanne” I see….
    “Can you tell me why you are tired, and you don’t see a way out?”
    “OH never mind I’m fine. THAT ONE question did it for me. I’ll go do something I really like now. Have a nice day!”
    It also becomes something when you are concerned about people having enough “training” when what does this “training” do, so often.
    TRY skid row! Go hire them! They might make a movie out of it!

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    • Thanks, Nijinsky.

      You remind me of how many times I’ve talked with people about how weird this assumption is that therapy is universally, uniformly helpful. Yet so many folks assume denial, or just not having found the ‘right’ therapist, or whatever else if someone says therapy isn’t a help.

      Some of the problem starts with nonsense like that, and then gets closer and closer to force as it rolls on forward.

      -Sera

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      • Yeah Sarah, and there are good therapists: they’re just not going to lock you up when you’re not brainwashed by them, they actually listen. And it’s so sad really what all one could learn from somebody who actually has a story which will remain there but for the lack of being allowed for the telling. Just the telling and nothing else… Sigh…..

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  9. 988 is coming to Canada at the end of the month. It is sad that the 988 team are not well trained. I don’t think I will use this service unless it changes. I will use 211 instead. I am autistic and do not want people like police who are trained by Autism Speaks and ABA groups to respond. I would prefer an autism number and a mental health number run by neurodivergent people who understand.

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  10. Great piece Sera, thank you so much for writing it. Of course I am not surprised at the same old same old failures of our fear-based “mental illness” industry. With the explosive growth of AI (artificial intelligence) we are facing the potential – and sadly, the high probability- of increasingly traumatizing reactions to people needing support.

    People with lived experience of navigating extreme emotional states, including but not limited to strong feelings of suicidality, know a lot about what genuinely helps people not only through the crisis but supports them to learn essential life-enhancing tools. Tools that focus on healing from trauma and building self-awareness, connection, wisdom and resiliency.
    Given your experience with 988 and what I have learned from the experiences of other, I ask:
    Where is:
    – Creating a mutually respectful space where compassion is offered, individual choice is honored, and the person can realize they are not alone.
    – Providing safety which allows the person to feel supported, to find meaning in their crisis experience, to regain emotional balance, to reclaim their power, and to determine their next (healthier) steps.
    – Where is “power with” (rather than “power over”) where decisions are guided by the person in crisis, whose knowledge of themselves and their situation is honored.
    – Listening sufficiently to explore the person’s experience and perspective and supporting them in thinking and feeling their way through the crisis.
    – Encouraging the person to take charge of their life even if it means going into the unknown and tolerating uncertainty.
    – The staff being aware of the impact of their words and actions and communicating in ways that are authentically validating.

    i could go on… Thank you Sera for taking the time to shine a light on some of the profoundly problematic issues with the current 988 scenario

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    • The fact is that they are not qualified to do this work, they don’t even have the respect for the wonderful amazing survivors and thrivers that they’re speaking to. Until this initial error is corrected we are not going to have any satisfaction with such a service which is serving the ignorance and errors of society and not the individuals that it pretends to serve.

      Now if they staffed their lines with qualified members of our population with lived experience, open hearts and good communication skills we could actually solve their problems once and for all and we would have a lessoning of those entering such services now and forever, able to find healing in relationships. Unfortunately that’s not working for the capitalistic business model which is the king in this horrible experience of American life, in desperate need of a revolution.

      Loved your comment Lauren! Thank you for reminding me what it’s all about!

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  11. I really wonder to what extent the problem is people trying to fit into what is promoted as statistical based norms or consensual reality deportment. When you can’t be a robot anymore and your brainwashing isn’t working that can seem to be some horrible assault on one’s life. Because society just is quite hostile towards such. I didn’t make up these terms statistical base norms, it was what the APA came up with when it was challenged as to what are the signs of mental illness and how do people suffer and why they need medications that statistically make things worse while they can’t actually validate the science they’re promoting regarding them. Mind Freedom had a hunger strike asking the APA to come up with proof that for example Prozac was treating chemical imbalance because they had this commercial all over the media regarding it. It was a lie and the APA couldn’t come up with that proof and then handed out textbooks which actually if you read them pointed out that there is no such proof. Then started going on about the spike without admitting how medications are collusion with that and mental illness and statistical based norms and who knows what else and that they didn’t see the hunger strikers as friends when they try to actually interact with them and were hostile towards them. And it was a psychiatrist that blogs on this site that added the term consensual reality deportment. Do these 988 people actually know how to create room for someone to just not feel like their life is over with when they can’t become a robot? I’m just trying to get perspective I’m not saying somebody on 988 should say to the person well yes because you’re trying to be a robot and you’re brainwashed and that’s never going to work I’m just trying to create perspective on how to relate to them. Let them feel they’re okay that they can feel with the feeling without feeling that they’re not supposed to be feeling that and then that might go away and or it will become clear to them from the feeling what it s really trying to say and how to avoid the things that it’s pointing out without having to kill oneself. For example, Taylor on the other line then goes on about social support, professional support a safe place and then says that stressors are triggers. Now if somebody’s life is not working how are they going to find social and professional support and a safe place? I think if they knew where that was and was part of their life you know they would go there. And then there’s the fact that statistically the mental health system is causing more suicides. This then is labeled as professional support. I mean you might just say well go someplace where you’re all by yourself and just breathe and feel what you feel and it might go away. Or all manner of not fighting against the feeling because it’s there and when allowing it then it’s allowed and being allowed then might go away, or it will modulate into showing what environment it’s from which might not have been cognizant to the person. It could just be that a person doesn’t want to feel that way but if they allowed it they might see what it was. I can’t say I have the answers here I’m just offering offering my own viewpoint but also then with Gretchen if someone is feeling suicidal and it’s gotten so far to call somebody else about it because they obviously don’t want to be feeling those feelings, okay to then be told well if we feel that you might really harm yourself we’re obligated to protect you which is that you’ll be escorted to an asylum, the police will show up at your house. When someone calls up because of feelings they don’t want to feel or they disturb them and they’re again told there’s something wrong with those feelings you’re not allowed to feel them rather than being given the space to discover if it’s okay to feel these feelings and they might go away which I think actually is what feelings are for: to be felt. Wanting to kill yourself could just be a reaction to not wanting to feel these feelings and if you feel them then you find out what they really are other might not be so bad. And this is just my viewpoint I’m sure Sarah is much more versed in how one responds and what helps and the different ways of de-escalating the situation without the intrusion of what looks like it’s help because it gets that label on it and is financially supported and all of that when it statistically is making things worse. It’s like do you want to kill yourself well if you really want to kill yourself we’ll put you away and make sure you never even can feel enough to know why you wanted to do that or what feelings were causing that reaction. Maybe if you felt them you wouldn’t feel you need to escape from them so much. But if you really want to escape them we will dope you up and this in the end statistically makes you more suicidal and you’re more likely to commit suicide but you won’t feel anything and we at least tried wish we get money for so it’s valid. I’m sorry I’m being terribly sarcastic because this is not funny you know those people need some place where they can just feel they can unburden themselves without feeling that they’re not even allowed to have the reaction they have…

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  12. Sera, I just want to say I really appreciate what you’re doing here (at your own risk) and your sense of humour. I read your linked article about ASIST, too–hilarious the way you mock this BS. Consider me a fan!

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  13. This was incredibly interesting. Thank you for being bold enough to do your research, and speak out. This system HARMS so many people who need to rely on it, under this BS guise of “safety”, and backwards legality. I look forward to seeing future content from you!

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    • Pretty sure I already addressed these points above, but let’s try again:

      1. I do regret my 11-year-old getting distressed. That wasn’t the intent. I didn’t call from home. I called from work when I was not with my child. That the police went to my home nearly two hours later was actually rather unexpected. That said, my child was just fine – not at all traumatized – once they were clear that the police weren’t there for them and everything was okay.

      2. I’m not trying to ‘trap’ #988. I’m letting them demonstrate exactly who they are.

      3. Researching #988 so I can share the results with my community and help people make informed decisions about whether or not they want to call isn’t a waste.

      4. You better believe I’m going to protect myself if the police inappropriately show up at my door. Did you know that police are legally allowed to lie to you? I’m not going to feel bad about giving that right back when it comes down to protecting myself.

      5. Ultimately, it is #988 who wasted police time, not me!

      Thanks,

      Sera

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    • Right, these institutions should not be questioned. Any direct research into their functioning is a waste of their resources and consequently a waste of police time. In fact, they should just put it point blank: “If you’re really going to commit suicide, don’t call us, you’d be wasting our resources and the police have better things to do.”

      Sarcasm over: To see why anyone would and/or should look into EXACTLY what goes on with #988, start reading in the above article where in boldface it says: “The Real Risk of Harm.” To question whether there isn’t a better way – given where the money and education is going – is what reasonable people able to look beyond programming do. It’s called responsibility. And beyond that empathy, true concern and compassion. Helping someone is something different than trying to shut down questioning whether what’s promoted or offered as help is working as it should.

      Saying that investigating what they do is wasting their resources, with your amazing argument, thought shalt never investigate ANYTHING that requires resources…..

      I think that’s valid fascism?

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  14. It was your privilege that saved you and allowed you even to be able to perform this experiment. If it wasn’t for that you would have been hospitalized and your life would have been turned inside out regarding your daughter and maybe even your custody arrangement, everything. I know because it’s happened to me and for far less cause, or really, no cause, and I had nothing at all that I could do about it.

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    • I don’t think anyone is arguing that privilege didn’t play a role here. I’m white. I was able to pull out some easy proof that I do the job I claimed I do. I know the system well enough to think quick and come up with something to say that was protective. I know attorneys I could check in with to see how much trouble I could get myself in by writing this piece. Sure. None of it is 100% protective, but it made a difference.

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