If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult life circumstances or uncomfortable thoughts and emotions we are here to help. You do not need to be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings to call. Trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, every day. Translation is available in more than 140 languages. We also offer teletype (TDD) services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County (CSS) was founded in 1966 on the humanistic idea that skilled intervention by non-professionals can help people in emotional crisis. Our program reflects this commitment to volunteer service; in FY2013-2014, 168 volunteers, 32 mental health interns, and 16 paid shift supervisors handled 65,729 crisis line calls, providing short-term intervention and referrals to callers struggling with a variety of life problems. Our suicide prevention center is part of an international movement; centers exist on every continent and in most major cities throughout the world. We are accredited by the American Association of Suicidology and we are a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
About our Crisis Line Counselors
- All crisis line counselors undergo 90 hours of training and have continued supervision with crisis line shift supervisors.
- Our three longest standing Crisis Line Volunteers Counselors have been with CSS for 17 years. Our oldest crisis line counselor is 88 years old.
We value diversity in our crisis line counselor community. Contact with people who have different backgrounds than their own strengthens crisis counselors’ ability to work with callers from diverse communities. Diversity in our pool of crisis counselors fosters a richer experience for our community who calls the crisis lines. Each connection is unique. Each connection is valuable. Alameda County is a very diverse county, and we would like our counselors to reflect that diversity.
In training, crisis line counselors often times share their own stories living with mental health concerns and they share stories of their own experience with thoughts, feelings and suicide attempts. In our training, we learn from each other’s experiences and explore our assumptions and bias. Crisis line counselors realize that their own experiences are not too different than the experience of the people who call. Their life experiences inform and often times deepen the connection between the person who is calling and the crisis line counselor.
Some of Our Counselors Have Lived Experience
In our most recent survey of our crisis line counselors, 99 out of 133 people responded. We asked about their lived experience. What this shows is that many of our crisis line counselors have been there.
|Question On the Survey||Yes||Percentage|
|Do you or someone close to you live with one or more mental health concerns?||72||72.7%|
|Have you or someone you care about dealt with suicidal thoughts and feelings?||77||77.8%|
|Has someone close to you died by suicide?||32||32.3%|
|Are you currently a mental health professional, or currently pursuing a career in mental health?||47||47.5%|
Crisis Line Program Philosophy
CSS is enriched by the various values and perspectives each crisis line counselor brings to the agency. The common foundation of this diversity is an absolute respect for the individual and the belief that callers can be served best by helping them to discover and draw upon their own strengths and resources.
Crisis Support Services of Alameda County is not in the business of imposing belief systems, solving problems, giving advice, or arguing people out of a wish to die. Our goal is to foster the life-affirming part of each caller and to help maintain or improve quality of life. This can best be achieved through non-judgmental, caring crisis intervention counseling in which callers are encouraged to take as much responsibility for their lives as possible.
Why You Should Call
We believe that everyone needs help at some point in their lives. It is easy to feel alone with your difficult emotions or life experience. You may be concerned about a friend or loved one who is dealing with suicidal thoughts or feelings. Our crisis line counselors are here to help. We don’t give advice. Instead, we provide a listening space or sounding board where you can share openly and receive warmth and care.