Reporter Turns Suicide Counselor p.12


David Blower wasn't dying, but the 26-year-old suicide caller he had on the line was.

"I just happened to be the one to pick it up," said Blower, explaining how he went from reporter to suicide counselor in the matter of a few innocent telephone rings.

Still in his reporter mode, Blower was suspicious of the 2:15 p.m. caller, thinking it might be a prank. It didn't take long, however, for Blower to realize the seriousness of the situation.

"His voice was beginning to convince me that it wasn't a joke," he said. "If it had been, I would have jumped through the phone and beaten him," said Blower, laughing.

At first, said Blower, the caller was "talking around the topic, like he didn't want to tell me what was going on."

The man soon admitted, however, that he had taken three bottles of pain killers.

"I have trouble swallowing two aspirin," commented Blower. "I don't know how he did it."

About 15 minutes into the conversation, Blower, by snapping his fingers, got the attention of another reporter, LaVar Hamblin.

On a note pad he wrote: "CALL 911 - SUICIDE CALL - SAID TOOK PILLS."

Hamblin responded with a funny grin, but "my flushed appearance and nervous handwriting must have convinced him that I wasn't joking," said Blower.

From this point onward, Blower juggled multiple tasks: listening to the caller reminisce about family and "living a lie," communicating, through Hamblin, with the 911 dispatcher and containing his own sense of panic.

His strategy for ensuring that the unknown caller survived was to keep the man conscious by continuous talking and get as much personal information as possible to assist the 911 dispatcher. …


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