Katrina Ferrell joined the Central Wyoming Counseling Center’s Call Center as a Crisis Specialist in August of 2020. Before that, she worked in various other departments in the Central Wyoming Counseling Center, from the front desk and registration, to records requests, and more. When the Call Center opened nearly three years ago, Ferrell jumped at the opportunity to join the team as a Crisis Specialist.
Ferrell knew that working for CWCC would give her the opportunity to help people, which is all she ever wanted to do. What she didn’t know was that she would be part of an active rescue situation, just two days after the call center opened.
[Names of callers are never revealed – the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 100% confidential]
“This individual called in and they were very distraught,” Ferrell said. “They were experiencing a personal crisis at the time. They were in their vehicle and they had a loaded pistol in the passenger seat of their car. With every call, we screen for certain criteria to determine whether or not someone is an imminent risk. And this individual certainly felt like they were.”
Ferrell said that she stayed on the phone with the individual while emergency responders attempted to reach them.
“An officer would be reporting to the location where this individual was,” Ferrell said. “Because the individual was in a very rural rea, being from Wyoming really helped us out a lot because we were able to isolate landmarks in order to find the person’s location and get emergency services to that individual.”
This example, the first of many, shows just how important the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline actually is; but it also demonstrates how important it is that the person on the other end of the line is actually from Wyoming.
Individuals in crisis have been able to call a 1-800 number for years, and the suicide prevention hotline has done a lot of good and saved a lot of lives. But the point of the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is to show callers that, when they call, they are speaking to somebody that actually lives in Wyoming; somebody who knows the towns, who knows the streets, who possibly knows some of the issues that the caller is going through.
When somebody calls the lifeline, they are calling a 307 number. They are speaking with trained crisis specialists who live and work in Wyoming.
“When you reach out by telephone for any kind of service, a lot of times you end up with individuals who are in a different part of the country, or even outside of the country,” Ferrell said. “And so, it’s refreshing to know that when you call the lifeline, you’re speaking to somebody that understands your community; that understands the challenges that you may be facing.”
In addition to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the Central Wyoming Counseling Center has also implemented text-based services for those who are in need but who may not want to actually speak on the phone.
“Calls and texts are answered by staff who are trained in all of the best practices regarding suicide prevention,” the CWCC website states. “They are certified and accredited through the National Suicide Prevention Network as well. This means when somebody calls or texts, they are getting the absolute best of the best people to talk to.”
In 2022 alone, the Central Wyoming Counseling Center took more than 2,000 calls via the Lifeline. In 2023, it is poised to take even more.
Ferrell said that while she was surprised, and a little nervous, to conduct an active rescue on just her second day, she said that it’s just proof of how important these services are. She considers it an honor and a privilege to be able to offer help to her neighbors, and she is determined to do everything she can to help the people who call in. That’s what she does now, and it’s what she did back in 2020.
“Because I was so new, your first reaction is to panic,” Ferrell admitted. “Like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do? What do I say?’ ‘Are the things that I bring up going to trigger this person and make things worse?’”
But then, Ferrell said, she remembered her training, she took a breath, she asked questions and, most importantly, she listened.
“One of the things that I’ve learned over time is that when you ask direct questions, like ‘Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide today or in the last week,’ people are often relieved,” she stated. “They’re relieved to be able to have those candid conversations about whatever they’re going through.”
She said that oftentimes, people don’t want to reach out to their friends or family members because they’re worried about damaging the relationships that they have.
“So, to be able to call someone anonymously and just pour your heart out and talk to somebody who is not going to be judgmental and who is not going to have any sort of other agenda other than helping you, it really benefits the caller,” she said.
Ferrell began working as a Crisis Specialist in August of 2020. Now she is the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Program Coordinator. She oversees the call center and manages the crisis workers. Her team is not a large one; they are small but mighty. And every single day, they give what they can to make sure the residents of Wyoming feel safe, worthy, and loved. Every single day they give their all. Every single day, they pick up the phone. Every single day, they answer the call.
“Please don’t hesitate to call,” Ferrell said. “That’s what we’re here for. Our passion is to assist people who are in crisis. You never have to disclose anything that you’re not comfortable with and you can end the call at any moment. And if you’re not the one in crisis, but you have a friend or family member that might be, give them our number. We are here 24/7. It doesn’t matter if it’s two in the morning or two in the afternoon. We’re there.”
And they always will be.
To learn more about Central Wyoming Counseling Center and the services they offer, visit their website.
To learn more about Wyoming Lifeline, visit their website or Facebook page.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or is contemplating suicide, call 988 or text 307-776-0610.