Compelled by a need.
In 1970, Dr. Richard Farmer, then chief of psychiatry at the John Gaston Hospital, and Dr. Allen Battle founded the beginnings of the Memphis Crisis Center soon after a patient of Dr. Farmer’s committed suicide. The young man suffered from recurring hallucinations, and unfortunately, wasn’t able to find a support system that could help him save himself.
Vowing that “this should not have happened,” Dr. Farmer and Dr. Battle created the first 24-hour volunteer-powered hotline, known as the Suicide Prevention Service. Within a short time, however, volunteers and agency managers noticed the hotline was handling a wider range of mental health, emotional and crisis issues, and the agency changed its name to the Suicide and Crisis Intervention Service to aptly reflect the full scope of its capacities.
For many years, the center operated quietly, first out of volunteers’ homes and then at several locations throughout the city, including the psychiatric ward at City of Memphis Hospital and the Music Department at Rhodes College.
In 1982, the agency, now known as the Memphis Crisis Center, moved into its first freestanding facility, a house in the Cooper-Young area of Midtown. In 1990, it became a program of Family Services of the Mid-South and secured United Way funding.
Moving on and serving more.
Nearly 20 years later, in 2009, the Memphis Crisis Center faced its own crisis when Family Services of the Mid-South was forced to close its doors due to economic reasons after nearly 115 years of service.
A dedicated group of volunteers and supporters quickly mobilized; a board of directors was established and the center once again became an independent agency. With generous support from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the center now had itself a training facility, call center and suite of administrative offices.
Today, it remains a vital, volunteer-powered agency. Some, in fact, have been manning phones—literally serving as a lifeline to hope—since its inception.
Through darkest moments, the Memphis Crisis Center has been a beacon of hope for thousands of Mid-Southerners. Most important, we continue to soldier on and be the voice callers need to hear, reminding them that a tomorrow will come and that they deserve to be in it.