Crisis Center Rock Star — Paul Butler

August 8, 2017

Paul is the Assistant Director of Crisis Intervention at Montgomery County Emergency Service in Norristown, PA. Here’s what his nominator had to say about him:

“[Paul] relates with both empathy and professionalism to all callers. He routinely uses conference calling to immediately link caller to referral source and reaches out to EDs to offer assistance with any problem cases. He always follows-up with callers he has worked with and many who spoke to other staff. Always gets out-of-area location info so he can connect callers with appropriate local resources. Makes sure that all crisis staff have essential information at their fingertips so as to effectively help callers.”

Paul obviously makes a massive effort to make sure the callers to the crisis center are handled appropriately and their needs are met. His work is so inspiring we decided to reach out to him to ask a few more questions.

Lifeline: Why did you become involved with suicide prevention and crisis center work?

Paul: I became involved in this line of work because it’s something I believe in. It struck me very early on in my college career that there was a mysticism associated with mental health issues and suicide. Most of what people generally knew of mental issues came from dramatization through TV shows or movies. I saw that there was a lack of understanding and sometimes even a fear associated with anything “mental health.” I saw the stigma associated with suicide and mental health issues and how those going through some of the most difficult times in their life didn’t know where to turn. I wanted to be a person there to listen, to understand, to support, and most importantly, to listen.

L: Can you tell us about a positive experience you’ve had with someone while working in crisis center services?

P: My experiences with Lifeline calls have been overwhelmingly positive. In my experience, callers just want someone to hear them out. To be there to listen. I recall several very positive experiences recently but most telling is a young woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend because both had been struggling with depression. She had said that she felt hopeless and that both, although they had loved one another, had a negative effect on each-other’s lives. At the end of the call the young woman was able to re-frame her current situation and found strength by talking things through — that things would eventually work themselves out.

L: Are there changes or improvements you’d like to see regarding suicide prevention or crisis center services?

P: The overwhelming difficulty in crisis centers is how best to help and get help to an individual who needs it. Engaging people in the communities where they work and live and educating the public on the realities of mental illness and stigmatization associated with it has got to be the new push going forward.

Thank you, Paul, for all of the life-saving work you do every day. Keep rocking on!

If you’re involved with a crisis center and interested in joining the Lifeline, a network of over 150 crisis centers around the country, please email
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, reach out. The Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1–800–273-TALK (8255).
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