No Call Goes Unanswered: Recognizing a Suicide Prevention Hotline Hero

Kate Kuehn knew something was wrong. She was only 24 and she felt like her life was already over. She had finished her studies at university, and the world had suddenly turned cold and harsh. She struggled to find work related to her studies. Her friends had all but vanished from her life after college. She was feeling a type of despair that the cold Toronto winter only made worse.

She thought the feelings of depression would pass. But then she started to have persistent suicidal ideation. At first, it seemed relatively benign. And then suddenly, it wasn’t. She knew that taking her own life wasn’t an option, but she couldn’t shake the thoughts.

Her daily routine had an unavoidable trigger. She couldn’t drive a car without thinking about using it to harm herself. Finally, after driving to work one day, she decided to seek help. In the middle of the workday, she told her boss what was happening and that she was going to the hospital.

An older gentleman—a volunteer who was not a psychiatrist—asked if she wanted to talk. He was quiet and patient; he sat with her, listened and provided basic human kindness.

They talked for a long time.

When she left the hospital, she never forgot that moment of kindness. She never got his name and never spoke to him again, but the conversation had changed her journey forever. Over time, she healed. She put in the hard work, and she learned how to have fun again and have a fulfilling life. Kate wanted to find a way to repay the kindness of that volunteer, so she began working for Crisis Services Canada.

The Genesys Hero program highlights the human touch in customer service and volunteerism. A human-to-human connection is critical for the service industry.  And we all have moments where an act of kindness from a stranger helps us overcome a problem or challenge.  Often, it can make our day. For Kate, it changed her life.

Kate talks about paying it forward. She stresses the importance of the acts of kindness where people “feel like they have been heard and that they are cared about.” This is the essence of creating positive experiences for others—those connected moments are powerful.

Kate works in a variety of administrative capacities and volunteers as a responder on the crisis helpline. She responds via phone, chat or text to people who are feeling despair or need to talk.

To just listen and be with the person in that moment is a concept that goes a long way when volunteering as a responder. That moment of connection with another human being—human-to-human interaction—provides the opportunity to help people with their challenges.

“If someone is brave enough to seek out support and call a number, or text a number, or open up a chat, that will not go unanswered,” said Kate Kuehn. “You are not going to experience that moment alone, there will be someone there.”

At Genesys, we support a lot of people in jobs that involve communicating with strangers and helping them. If there is anywhere that the stakes are higher, or the need for compassion and empathy greater, I cannot fathom what they might be? It is for this reason that we are so proud to celebrate Kate Kuehn’s work, she is the ultimate CX Hero.

If you’re feeling hopeless or need someone to talk to, please text “HOME” to 741-741 to reach the crisis text line or call 1-800-273-8255. To reach Crisis Services Canada, text 45645 or call 1-833-456-4566.