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Kansas Considers Corporate Sponsored Suicide Hotlines


photo: Thinkstock

Topeka, KS: In the wake of a $19 million dollar cut to mental health services, Kansas has begun courting corporate sponsors to pick up the rest of the bill.  Corporations have responded enthusiastically, seeing it as an opportunity to involve themselves in the lucrative business of healthcare provision.

McDonald’s has already released a concept sketch of the Double-Bacon Zoloft Burger and KFC has leaked news of a new product code-named the “KFC Ambien Double-Down.”  Public health officials have a positive outlook about such developments, since McDonald’s and KFC factor heavily into the diets of depressed people.

First up for corporate sponsorship is the state’s suicide crisis hotline, which has been notably unprofitable.  Previous attempts to subsidize the costs of the service included selling ad space in the middle of particularly long conversations and having employees suggest hotline subscription plans for frequent callers.  Ad sales were suspended due to lack of corporate interest and monthly dues for subscribers tended to go unpaid.

One sponsor that has attracted a lot of attention is the famous telephone service Moviefone.  They’ve proposed a plan for an entirely automated suicide hotline nicknamed Crisisfone.  Callers would be guided through a comprehensive list of problems from which they can select, each with a variety of survey-tested pieces of advice from which they can choose.  The service has the potential to process callers so quickly, Moviefone has suggested even healthy people might want to call instead of speaking to a therapist.

Microsoft has also thrown its hat into the ring.  This is despite previous failures in the health field, such as Windows 8 for Schizophrenics, which turned out to just be Windows 8, and a health insurance plan called Blue Cross Blue Screen of Death.  Microsoft’s plan for the hotline involves tying callers into their existing customer service system.  Microsoft has already piloted the test in several small towns with mixed results.

One caller, Charles McGrowler of Segwick County, Kansas, has been following the hotlines’ advice.  He told reporters, “I’ve gone to sleep and woken up again seven times now, but I don’t feel any better.”

Cheryl McLittle, another caller, expressed confusion. “I don’t know, installing Service Pack 3 hasn’t made me any less anxious.”

The leading contender is none other than Comcast, whose customer service techniques are known worldwide.  They’ve proposed a hotline system so labyrinthine, so obtuse, that all Kansas would need to handle call volume is a tiny call center in India.  Psychologists support this technique, referring to it as the “Comcast Effect.”  That is, enough hold time can transmute even the strongest negative feelings into anger.  Thus suicidal thoughts are changed into a healthy level of homicidal rage.

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