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CONTACT We Care is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline serving Central and Northern New Jersey. We also are a responder within New Jersey to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK. We respond to people in need via phone and texting and our volunteer listeners and texters handle more than 15,000 calls/texts per year.
CONTACT We Care also is a mental health care and suicide prevention trainer. We are certified in Mental Health First Aid training and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and use these core competencies to enhance the skills of our volunteer listeners. Our ASIST program also is available to first responders, clergy, and community groups and business managers and provides them with hands-on skills to recognize early warning signs of emotional distress and to intervene. We also provide in-school teenage suicide prevention training to educators, enabling them to spot early warning signs of at-risk youth and support them through active listening and dialogue.
CONTACT has been answering calls from lonely, socially isolated and desperate people seeking consolation since 1975. In 2012 began interacting with those in need of our services via texting. Ours is the only general listening service for all of North and Central New Jersey, a service area with 3.0 million inhabitants in Union, Somerset, Middlesex, Essex and Morris counties. More than 200 trained volunteers staff our hotline, and answer more than 15,000 calls and texts per year.
We also provide suicide prevention training to first responders, clergy and community groups, business managers and educators and parents. We are certified in mental Health First Aid training Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and have a certified ASIST Master Trainer on our staff.
Many callers and texters reach out to us when they are suddenly confronted with a traumatic life crisis — the death of a loved one, divorce or job loss. Many others may be dealing with long-term depression or other mental illness and call regularly. They may be under a doctor’s care but need a supplemental source of comfort, a safety valve for their mental anguish. A growing number of callers are suicidal.
We also serve those in the community who seek training in mental health awareness and preventing suicide.
For all callers and texters, we are there first and foremost to listen to their stories actively and empathetically. We don’t give advice but we can help with problem-solving, guiding callers through conversation to make their own choices and decisions about how to carry on their lives. Usually, just the fact that we are there to listen is healing.
Research shows a decrease in feelings of emotional distress and suicide both during and following calls to crisis hotlines. Significant decreases in callers' crisis states and hopelessness were found during the course of the telephone session, with continuing decreases in crisis states, hopelessness and psychological pain in the following weeks.
CONTACT volunteers attend 60 hours of training in active listening skills and how to handle the broad range of calls received on the hotline. We also offer advanced training in mental health issues and suicide intervention skills. After their initial training, listeners and text consultants are required to undergo six hours of advanced training annually.
CONTACT We Care is affiliated with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the American Association of Suicidology and CONTACT USA, which accredits us.