The Impact of Caller Gender on Telephone Crisis-Helpline Workers' Interpretation of Suicidality in Caller Vignettes

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Apr 23;15(4):831. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15040831.


Telephone crisis-line workers (TCWs) are trained in a variety of techniques and skills to facilitate the identification of suicidal callers. One factor that may influence the implementation of these skills is gender. This study used an experimental design to explore whether helpline callers being identified as male or female is associated with TCWs’ ratings of callers’ potential for suicide risk and TCWs’ intention to use support- or intervention-oriented skills with callers. Data were collected using an online self-report survey in an Australian sample of 133 TCWs. The results suggest that under some circumstances the callers’ gender might influence TCWs’ intention to use intervention-oriented skills with the caller. Implications for the training of telephone crisis workers, and those trained in suicide prevention more broadly are discussed.

Keywords: communication; gender differences; men; suicide; suicide intervention; telephone crisis support; telephone crisis-helpline; women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Crisis Intervention / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hotlines / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / prevention & control