To an account administrator receiving a message when the school is dark and locked up, she’s Agent 02 of STOPit’s Incident Management Center (IMC). But to a student in trouble, Tracy Craig just might be the person who saves the day.
Through the STOPit Incident Management Center, anonymous incident reports sent on nights, weekends and holidays are monitored around the clock by a team of trained professionals. While the campus is quiet, incident management agents like Craig are standing by, prepared to handle any situation brought to their attention by students from thousands of schools from coast to coast.
“STOPit is proactive and that’s what I love about it. They get in front of the incident before anything escalates or gets out of control,” Craig said. “Because we’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we’re able to respond in real time and we’re able to save lives.”
How Off-Hours Reports Are Handled
When a user files a report via the STOPit app, the web or the phone hotline, Craig and her team will first assess its urgency. If it’s a non-life threatening report, no intervention is needed and administrators can properly handle it during standard school hours. But if it’s an emergency, they must move quickly.
The team’s first step is to call the school’s primary emergency contact, no matter what time of day. If the administrator answers, IMC staff can direct the admin to the report which permits them to communicate directly with the student right away.
If he or she doesn’t answer, the agent will move on to the secondary and third contacts on the list; if they can’t be reached, local law enforcement will be contacted. The IMC has access to translators that can assist with several languages if the report is not filed in English.
As Craig observed, agents like herself are “in the center of it all.” She is not only in direct contact with students and school personnel, but regularly works with STOPit’s technical team on any issues that arise and sometimes receives inquiries that require her to work with sales staff.
Like a 911 operator, a STOPit IMC agent must be prepared for the unpredictable. An analysis of STOPit data from the 2019-20 school year showed that over 36,000 reports were filed systemwide. A wide range of incidents were reported, with the most common types being bullying (12%), misconduct (12%), harassment (11%), substance abuse (9%) and threats (6%).
Agents: Experts Who Care
To perform the role of IMC agent well – and provide customers with the most helpful, most accurate and timely support for each report – it takes a very particular combination of compassionate character, logistical skills and intensive training.
Craig recalled going through a rigorous interview process which was designed to ensure that prospective agents have both excellent technical skills and a personal drive to help others. This sense of empathy and compassion is also a must in her day job as a worker in the medical field.
Her experience dealing with those in sensitive situations has given her insight into the thinking of students on the other end of the app. Often, she believes, students are going through something that they feel too embarrassed to share with their parents, their doctors or the other authority figures in their lives.
“They’re reaching out for a reason. They’re saying, ‘I feel suicidal, I want to hurt myself.’ So for us to say, hey, we have this student on the line, and for the [administrator] to message that student right then and there, they feel like, ‘My voice is being heard — I’m important.’” Craig says that every member of the IMC team is similarly vetted to make sure every call receives the same expert, compassionate response.
Although she’ll never meet the students making contact with her, Craig can’t help but think of them and sometimes checks the system logs throughout the week for any information that indicates they received the help they needed. And she’s frequently moved by the way STOPit empowers young people to look after their peers.
“I would say a large portion of the incidents received concerning suicide or self-harm are from a friend reporting about their best friend, who stated he or she wanted to kill themselves or just texted them that they want to end their life,” she said. “It’s a great way for a friend to anonymously help their friend without being exposed and jeopardizing the relationship.”
For More on STOPIt’s Incident Management Center
If you’re not signed up for STOPit IMC, visit the IMC page on our website today to set up a demo or learn how to add it to your school or organization’s package. STOPit is committed to making services like the IMC center work better for you. From the onboarding process to launch and beyond, our customer care team will reach out to gather your input on how STOPit can be improved and tailored to meet your needs.
National Suicide Prevention Designation Act, Signed Into Law
Recently the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law. 988, is the new three-digit access code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is scheduled to go live by July 2022.
For now, please continue to share 1-800-273-TALK (8255) with anyone wishing to connect to the Lifeline. More information about this resource is here.
Mental Health and Wellness Resources