SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Caring and Crisis Hotline Caring Contact will be offering Excellence in Listening training beginning September 12 at the RWJ Rahway Fitness and Wellness Center at 2120 Lamberts Mill Road in Scotch Plains, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The training program meets once weekly for 13 weeks, including one two-day weekend session.

Through the training, volunteers receive 52 hours of comprehensive training in active listening, Mental Health First Aid and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Volunteers develop the ability to listen actively, assess the needs of someone in crisis and provide empathy and support.

The cost is $299 for a $600 value. Course graduates who become volunteer listeners for Caring Contact receive a $100 refund after 100 hours volunteering on the lines. Volunteers are asked to commit to eight hours per month after completing the training.

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The training is excellent for non-volunteers, as well, including educators and parents, first responders, social workers, counselors, clergy, business managers and community group leaders.

The suicide rate in the United States has been increasing every year since 1999, rising more than 24 percent between 1999 and 2014. Every 13.7 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide and more than 42,000 people died by suicide in 2013, including 4,600 young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-24 and four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.

Research has shown that suicide prevention training results in a stable and significant increase in a trainee's readiness to intervene with a person at risk. 

Anyone interested in registering for the training should visit http://caringcontact.org/volunteer-listener-application/.

 

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community, providing active listening support and best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 200 trained volunteer listeners take more than 15,000 calls per year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

 

"Caring Contact offers a flexible, rewarding volunteer opportunity," said Joanne Oppelt, the hotline's executive director. "People who have been told they are a good listener and have a yearning to should consider becoming a volunteer listener."

 

Volunteer listeners are supported by seasoned listeners during 24 hours of internship before a listener takes a call on their own. Even once a volunteer is a certified listener, the hotline provides a range of support and training opportunities to allow them to keep honing their skills.

 

Colleen Mannix has been volunteering at Caring Contact for about a year. She came to the hotline with a master's degree in counseling and was impressed with the professionalism of the training and how prepared it makes volunteers to take calls.

 

"I thought it was really comprehensive," Mannix said. "They prepare you for every scenario. It provides an understanding of mental health that is really important for volunteers who don't have a background in counseling."

 

Jane Berlant began volunteering at Caring Contact because she was looking for something meaningful to do with her time after her daughter went to college.

 

"It had to make an impact," she said. "I can't just play golf and tennis and go to lunch. It has given me such a sense of purpose and accomplishment, a sense of self. It has also changed my life in ways of dealing with people for the better, how I deal with my family, my daughters, how I listen to them. Instead of always wanting to fix things, I now just listen."

 

Anyone interested in volunteering should visit http://caringcontact.org/give-support/volunteer/.

 

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. The hotline also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

 

 If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.

 

About Caring Contact

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. We attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress and educate our communities about the power of personal connection. We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.