LI Crisis Center Taking Calls, Educating About Mental Health For 50 Years

crisis center
Courtesy Long Island Crisis Center

For the past 50 years, the Long Island Crisis Center (LICC) has provided an invaluable resource to Long Islanders suffering mental health crises: a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline.

While it started as a single hotline in 1971, the crisis intervention center has expanded in the five decades since. The Bellmore-based organization now takes calls from seven different hotlines assisting individuals in crisis or contemplating suicide. It also has online and mobile chat services for people in crisis, which is available weeknights from 7 to 11 p.m., and a host of community programs that educate people about mental health and suicide prevention.

“Anybody can call our hotline anytime, day or night, any day of the year, and talk to a trained counselor,” says Assistant Director Katie Stoll. “Counselors are trained to listen, be nonjudgmental, and to support and empower the person on the other end of the phone to come to their own decisions.”

LICC’s volunteer counselors get six months of intensive training before taking calls. Since LICC offers a short-term crisis response service, counselors often refer people to long-term counseling, rehabilitation, group therapy, housing, or other assistance, by searching a database of hundreds of facilities available to Long Islanders in need.

Aside from immediate support, LICC combats suicide with its community mental health education and Pride for Youth division. 

In the past, LICC volunteers would teach mental health lessons at schools; however, since the coronavirus pandemic, LICC has presented all its programming via Zoom and Google Meets. There are several different lessons, including Managing Emotions, Cyberbullying, and Let’s Talk Mental Health. 

“We are prepared to present our programs virtually or in person,” Stoll says.

However, another program, Suicide Prevention in Adolescents, has been discontinued until counselors can see students in person. 

“We like to do it in person in case a student is triggered by anything we say and needs support immediately after,” Stoll says.

Since 1993, LICC’s Pride for Youth has offered resources for young members of the LGBTQ+ community, including counseling for youth and their parents, support groups, HIV testing, and community education. These programs help improve mental health for the LGBTQ+ population, which has suicide rates up to three times higher than heterosexual youth.

LICC will hold its annual fundraiser, Making Moves for Suicide Prevention, from Sept. 17-19. The virtual run, walk, and cycling event will use the racing app JustMove to log miles and raise funds for LICC’s lifesaving work. For more information, visit longislandcrisiscenter.org.

For those in need of support, the Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline is 516-679-1111.