Our goal with the NSPD is to make suicide prevention centers directly accessible hereby. To that end, we have recently tested VoIP [Voice-over-IP, in this case Skype] as a means of direct dialing NSPD listed crisis centers from your computer. Here are the results of our findings:
On the plus side, having succeeded in using Skype to contact crisis lines directly, we found the best way to do so is to:
1) Download and install Skype -- It's Free! Ready to go, as long as your computer is setup for voice/phone communications.
2) For new Skype users, there's an "Options" button in the lower left corner of the initial installation interface. Click that button and choose the Firefox toolbar or the Internet Explorer toolbar. This will convert phone numbers on web pages into links you can call directly using Skype. Either one of these web browsers is required for Skype enabled calling from web pages.
2A) For current users, if you don't have the toolbars installed already, you can download them:
On the minus side:
Basically, after an aborted call and a call answered with "We cannot take this call", 1-800-SUICIDE [784-2433] / 1-800-273-TALK  answered the line advising us to call back using a land line, then hung up immediately. (While speaking with a staff member from LA Suicide Prevention who mentioned her hesitancy to take my call, realizing it was a voip call and thinking it was a prank, we discovered the plausible cause for the general unwillingness to take our VoIP call to be a torrent of prank calls to crisis centers from VoIP numbers. We bring this up to ask everyone to respect the sensitivity of this issue and of the persons who are there voluntarily to be on top of it for every caller who truly is in crisis -- please do not play games on this field that's on the cutting edge between life and mortal death; you could be diminishing the emotional and psychological resources of the persons attending those lines, thus potentially causing them to avoid a call that could be coming to them from someone who really needs them. Worse, you could be blocking the line and causing a caller not to reach someone on their last try for help and, thus, facilitating their suicide -- if my case was clinical and I [this author] was fully intent on ending my life and was actually crying out for help by calling the 800 #s above on my only phone connection, a VoIP phone, having been denied a voice on the other end three times in a row, I probably wouldn't be living now to write this. I could be your friend, brother, sister or parent; gone, irrevocably, because you decided to act foolishly. Stop it, please!!)
You may encounter issues such as we did using this route to call NSPD crisis centers. We recommend the use of a land line or cell phone before attempting a VoIP/Skype call. However, if your computer is the best means of effecting crisis intervention, we're glad our tests resulted in eventual success and that we can provide this option for NSPD users.
The National Suicide Prevention Directory
Presented by The MÈRE Project Charitable Trust
Copyright by The MÈRE Project Charitable Trust. All rights reserved.