Local Retiree Has Encore Experience Answering Crisis Line Calls

Published: June 8, 2018

Indianapolis—Families First would like to thank Mike Dunn, Supervisor of Crisis and Suicide Intervention Services for his dedication to suicide prevention. This year marks eleven years since his initial involvement in the 24/7 crisis and suicide hotline. After 35 years of working in the plumbing service and contracting industry, Dunn retired in 2006. One year later, he made the commitment to answer the calls of individuals in mental and emotional distress. “Mike is the kindest, gentlest voice you could expect to hear when calling in a crisis,” said Rachael Bain-Chase of Families First, when asked to speak on Dunn’s personality on the Line. “He is a true gift to those who call in and callers feel accepted and understood while receiving great resources and ideas to keep themselves safe.” In 2010, he left retirement and became a supervisor and trainer for the Crisis and Suicide Intervention Program. A few years later, he became the supervisor for the program.

Dunn recruits and trains volunteers, advocates for mental health services, and respond to calls on the line. “Many times, we listen to people on the worst day of their life and we are the first to learn of it,” shared Dunn. “I believe it is a privilege to be able to provide assistance.”

A privilege that Dunn takes very seriously, especially because the line is operational 24/7, 365 days a year. That means that on weekends and holidays, Dunn may be on call, ready to respond to someone suffering from overwhelming and intense emotional pain. Often, when the line is short of volunteers, Dunn will cover these shifts. During the last 12 months, he was on the line for 8,715 hours. For perspective, there are 8,760 hours in one calendar year. Many times, during recruitment, individuals show an interest in volunteering, but are nervous about the responsibility of answering calls from individuals who may be experiencing problems bigger than their own. To that Dunn says, “All you must do is care, we can teach you the rest. During training, volunteers will be given the structure, support, and information necessary to clarify the situations of our callers and help them develop their own solutions with facilitation and guidance. We let callers know they don’t have to go through their crisis alone. There are people who care and help is available. We believe there is hope for anyone that may contact us.”

In Indiana, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34. Volunteers on the Crisis Line are crucial to providing resources and comfort during times of great distress--we need you! Find out more about volunteering.

About Families First

Families First was founded more than 180 years ago, by caring people in Indianapolis - people who wanted to be there for their neighbors in their time of need. And Families First is here today for those who need care, hope, and guidance - for everyday life or in times of crisis.

Families First is partially funded by the United Way of Central Indiana, and is fully accredited by the national Council on Accreditation (COA), attesting that it meets the highest standards of professional performance. For more information on how to get involved with Families First, please visit the website.