Need some information? Try 'Hotline," 825-0860
What do you say to a kid who wants to commit suicide?
"Mostly, you try to take their minds off the subject and talk about happy things. It's happened before and it works," says Leslie T '73, a volunteer listener for Hotline.
At 825-0860, the Maine Township Hotline is ready to answer questions, discuss problems, or just talk. Callers remain anonymous. Everyone is invited to call. As the Hotline name card says, "We're here to help."
Staff members are on hand every day from 4 PM 'til midnight to help. The least busy time is around five and six, probably because it's supper time
"Around 8 or 9 PM when parents think their kids are sleep, we get a lot of calls," one staff member commented.
"After ten," he continued, "we get busier and busier." Like the callers, staff members may remain anonymous.
Lynn H '74, another volunteer listener, works two nights a week in two-hour shifts taking calls. Lynn said, "Sometimes I get four calls an hour, other times I don't get any all week."
"I think most calls come on weekend nights," she continued, "especially the prank calls. But most of them want to rap. A lot of parents call about their kids' problems, and we tell them were to call. We've got a big file of different places that can help people. The hotline is basically a referral place that people can call for help."
Calls come in on every subject, but kids frequently want to discuss drugs, sexual worries, or questions pertaining to sex. "We get many calls from girls who want information on The Pill, or are pregnant and want advice," a staff member observed.
"Hotline originated from an increased awareness of the drug problem," a staff member commented, "so it's no wonder we get so many questions about drugs."
"Some people just want to talk," another staff member added. "A few girls call me about every week. We're sort of telephone friends."
Hotline's staff consists of about thirty volunteers, both married couples and male and female unmarrieds. Many high school kids are volunteers. A staff member is not paid.
To be a staff member, a person has to be eighteen and "have a desire to help' people," as one staff member said. Volunteers go through a training period which includes direct contact with Forest Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Des Plaines.
Dr. Blair Plimpton says Hotline needs more volunteers of high school age or older to take calls. If anyone is interested in helping, he can call Hotline at 825-0860.
Established about three years, Hotline continues to be a source of information for those who use it. As a staff member commented, "Don't hesitate to call us. Don't feel embarrassed or dumb. We're not here to preach or check up on you. We're here to help."