People who call helplines often express feelings and emotions related to suffering and thoughts of death.
The helplines are the place where what cannot be expressed elsewhere can be told to and held by another human being, who is usually a volunteer with no therapeutic aims and ready to provide a respectful and empathic listening, without judging, advising or making comparisons.
One of the most powerful ways to support people in distress, prevent suicide and develop emotional well-being is to understand with respect what others are experiencing and help them recognise their inner resources.
Trained volunteers of helplines offer a quality relationship based on non-judgemental listening, focused on what is most alive in the other person in terms of feelings and essential needs. It is an attitude, deciding to be completely available for someone, putting aside personal preoccupations and thoughts, being there, ready to offer full attention. This is what is called empathic listening.
Empathy is first based on presence: being simply present for the other person and alive to what he is experiencing. Receiving empathy helps the caller to step back; it helps him to stay connected with himself, clarifying, beyond his emotions, which of his fundamental needs are not being satisfied in his life right now.