Although they happen rarely, we occasionally receive crisis calls on L-net. These may be suicide calls or calls that indicate some sort of abuse or threat is involved.
If you aren't sure if there is a crisis or not, ask yourself the question,
is someone in danger?
If someone is in danger, or if someone was in danger recently, or if someone will be in danger soon, it is a crisis call.
- "I am going to kill myself"
- "My boyfriend punches me"
- "There is a bomb in a locker"
- "My father was touching me"
Some of these calls may be pranks, but we should always assume that the call is real and take the situation seriously. The following guidelines are intended to help prepare librarians for the possibility of a crisis call and provide appropriate steps to take in the event of a crisis call.
What to do:
- Always report the call. Contact Caleb (email@example.com, 503.988.5438) or Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org, 503.988.5433). Tell us the Question ID, if possible, and if not about what time it happened and who was online. If the call originated in a school or library, we will pass information on to them so that they can follow up.
- Oregon law requires employees of a private or public organization providing child-related services or activities who have reasonable cause to believe that a child with whom they come in contact with has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom library employees come in contact has abused a child, to immediately report or cause a report to be made to the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) or law enforcement. The law also requires reporting of adult abuse for adults older than 65 and adults with disabilities. Phone numbers for DHS are at http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/children/pages/abuse/cps/cw_branches.aspx.
- The responsibility to report to DHS is present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and includes non-work hours. Volunteers are not considered mandatory reporters. However, L-net volunteers who also work in an Oregon library are considered mandatory reporters if the law applies to the library in which they work. More information is at http://apps.state.or.us/Forms/Served/de9061.pdf
- Do a reference interview. It's possible that the call is coming from a student doing research. One or two clarifying questions will determine if the call is personal in nature or not.
- If the question is personal, refer the patron to an appropriate hotline. As librarians, we don't have the necessary training to assist a patron in crisis, but we can find resources that will help. Links for hotline resources are listed below.
- Strike a balance between professional behavior and supportive behavior. If the patron is in trouble, we want to be friendly, supportive, and approachable, as with all of our patrons. However, remain professional and give resources rather than advice.
Youth Crisis Hotline
IMALIVE - online chat crisis intervention network, available select hours
Suicide hotlines includes links for local hotlines in the U.S.
Another listing of hotlines in the U.S. http://depression.about.com/cs/suicidecrisis/l/blus.htm
Go Ask Alice
A search of the word hotline brings up many subject specific hotlines (emergency contraception, self-mutilation, substance abuse, gay and lesbian are a few). The site is geared towards a college-age audience.
A peer support service that sends asyncrhonous (but rapid) email messages to teens in crisis.
Oregon Youth Line
Teens are available Monday-Friday from 4-9pm (Pacific Time) to answer calls, text messages, and chats. Call 1-877-968-8491, text teen2teen to 66746, or click the chat icon to instant message.
Prank call guidelines
Prank calls represent a very small percentage of the calls that we receive on L-net. The majority of the kids and teens who use the service are responsive and eager to learn from us. These guidelines are intended for working with those patrons who may test our boundaries and exhibit inappropriate behavior.
- Give the patron a second chance. If the question is a prank, a simple warning can often lead the patron to ask a real question, receive an answer, and results in a patron who feels good about the library. Librarians may want to use the script "If you have a question, please rephrase it with more appropriate language".
- If it is unclear if a question is real or a prank, doing a reference interview may help.
- If it is still unclear, try sending the patron an informative web site. Suggested resources are listed below.
- If the patron persists in using inappropriate language, disconnect. Librarians may want to use the script "Your language is inappropriate for this situation. Goodbye".
Go Ask Alice
Internet Public Library's teen space
Multnomah County Library's Health, Sex and Your Body
Written largely by teens and doesn’t “dumb down” its advice. Most appropriate for older teens.
Information for teens on healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Real questions from real kids, with answers from experts. Any kid can ask a question on the site with no login required. Also includes articles on various topics.
The teen section has a whole array of emotional health information in the "your mind" section and the kids section has some similar things in "growing body and mind"