The Listeners

USA 2016. Dir: Bill Hurst. 65 min. Blu-ray Disc

VANCOUVER PREMIERE! An engrossing look behind the scenes at Headquarters, a 24/7 suicide prevention crisis centre in Lawrence, Kansas, where more than twenty thousand calls a year are answered by trained volunteers. “We all learn how to talk — we don’t learn how to listen,” says one of the interview subjects in this affecting documentary, as we follow 11 young trainees working their way through a rigorous 11-week training session incorporating intense role-play scenarios that cover just about every imaginable crisis. Learning how to listen with empathy and without judgement and resisting the urge to offer “quick fixes” to problems are skills that prove difficult for some trainees to master. But many graduate to the phones, where they join others like themselves: everyday people on the front lines of suicide prevention.

Post-screening discussion with Josh Cytrynbaum, Sandy Biggerstaff and Alain Bedard-Gibson.

Josh Cytrynbaum, Clinical Coordinator at The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC, has spent the last 10 years in the mental health field, with a special focus in crisis management, suicidality, and human sexuality.

Sandy Biggerstaff, Executive Director at the Crisis Centre, has spent 20 years successfully cultivating stakeholder relationships and leading cross-functional teams in both the post-secondary and non-profit sectors in support of vulnerable populations.

Alain Bedard-Gibson, Training Coordinator at the Crisis Centre, coordinates and supports a team of training staff and senior volunteers to deliver basic training, as well as ongoing training to all volunteers in the Distress Services program.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.

Co-sponsored by The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C.