I wonder if DriveSavers hires any telecommuters? Maybe I should get in touch with Kelly Chessen.
In any case, she has some very good advice in this ComputerWorld article, How to calm someone in a crisis
Chessen is alert for certain words and phrases that might indicate a person is in profound distress. “Sometimes I’ll hear someone say, ‘If I can’t get my data back, I don’t know what I’ll do,’ and that’s a tip to me,” she says, as are other statements such as “This is hopeless” or “My life is over.” In every case, Chessen asks the person directly, “Are you considering suicide?” Whether the situation involves a life event or the loss of a critical work product, it’s crucial to ask. “If they’re not thinking about it, they’ll say no. And if they are, the fact that someone asked them to talk about it will be a relief and a release for them,” she explains.
Her techniques sound very familiar, as I did similar things to manage calls when I worked in a call center. She uses different terminology thank I would, which is understandable—she’s a former suicide hotline counselor.