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The Day a Young Man Called and Said He Wanted to End His Life

Teresa Odom is a Director of Clinical Care Services. In this role, she fields calls from members and assists them with all matters ranging from simple questions to crises.     

When a suicidal person calls you, it takes years of experience and expert empathetic listening to guide their lives towards a different path.

There are certain moments where time seems to stand still. For Teresa Odom these are the moments where she’s saving a life.

Teresa works in our St. Louis call center as a director of clinical care services where she helps members in a variety of situations. Her most critical calls are those when she’s speaking with someone who is contemplating suicide.

“On any given day, at any given moment you could potentially be speaking with a suicidal member,” explained Teresa. She”ll never forget the day a young man called to share his plan to end his life. “He was calling because he needed someone to tell his mother that it wasn’t her fault,” she recalls. Over the next two hours, Teresa leveraged her knowledge and extensive training to guide this man to a new fate.

“During our conversation I listened for things that told me there was a part of him that didn’t want to follow through with that choice. As soon as I knew what or who he cared about, in this case his mother, we started to talk about that.”

Teresa eventually convinced the man to allow her to call his mother, while another Magellan employee alerted the authorities to go to his home. They stayed on the phone with him until help arrived. He ended up safe and in the company of those who loved him. Ultimately, Teresa saved his life.

“It’s very humbling when you help someone in crisis take a different path,” Teresa reflects. "It’s even better when they call you a few weeks later to say ‘thank you’ like this man did."

If you have the empathy and compassion to dedicate yourself to life-changing work, join us. We hold accreditation through the American Association of Suicidology, and offer clinical-level training and continued education on suicide prevention.

It is this modern approach that enables people like Teresa to do lifesaving work.

Meet the Author

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Nora McNulty

Employer brand intern and UCLA student studying communications and psychology