Compelled by a need.
The Memphis Crisis Center was founded in 1970 as the Suicide Intervention Service by a small group of mental health professionals after a patient suffering from recurring hallucinations lost hope and ended his life. Recognizing that this should not have happened these committed physicians, along with a group of community stakeholders, created the first 24-hour volunteer-powered hotline in the Memphis area, with the idea of providing ongoing around-the-clock support to individuals in suicidal distress.
Due to varied community need, the program quickly expanded to include anyone needing emotional support or crisis intervention services. 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.