Effects of different telephone intervention styles with suicidal callers at two suicide prevention centers: an empirical investigation

Am J Community Psychol. 1997 Dec;25(6):861-85. doi: 10.1023/a:1022269314076.


To determine the relative effectiveness of telephone intervention styles with suicidal callers, researchers listened unobtrusively to 617 calls by suicidal persons at two suicide prevention centers and categorized all 66,953 responses by the 110 volunteer helpers according to a reliable 20-category checklist. Outcome measures showed observer evaluations of decreased depressive mood from the beginning to the end in 14% of calls, decreased suicidal urgency ratings from the beginning to the end in 27% of calls, and reaching a contract in 68% of calls, of which 54% of contracts were upheld according to follow-up data. Within the context of relatively directive interventions, a greater proportion of "Rogerian" nondirective responses was related to significantly more decreases in depression. Reduction in urgency and reaching a contract were related to greater use of Rogerian response categories only with nonchronic callers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Crisis Intervention*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Person-Centered Psychotherapy
  • Program Evaluation
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Volunteers / psychology