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ACTS Helpline has been listening to the greater Prince William community for over 25 years

Action in Community Through Service, or ACTS, is a non-profit organization serving the communities of Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park since its establishment in 1969. 

In a corner office of the ACTS building located at 3900 Acts Lane in Dumfries, VA, volunteers speak in composed, hushed tones, taking phone calls for the Helpline.

The Helpline is a free service for those who need someone to listen to their thoughts and feelings. Listeners will assist with crisis intervention for suicide, sexual assault, and abuse. The crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day, and no problem is too big or small to be heard.

Suicide is among the ten leading causes of death in America in 2010 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide can affect people of all ages, across all demographics.

Victoria Graham has served as the Helpline Director since 1992. “We have trained staff and volunteers who receive 40 hours of training to assist those who call the Helpline,” she said. As the backup for the national suicide hotline, the Helpline received over 4,000 calls just last month.

Born and raised in Colorado, Graham trained as a laboratory technician and worked as an EMT. While volunteering with hospice, the philanthropist realized she needed to improve her listening skills, so she began volunteering with a suicide hotline. Since then, she has gone back to school for psychology, and has dedicated her life to helping others.

“You can’t allow one act to define another person’s entire life,” she said. “It’s about focusing on what we can do to make things better.” With a warm smile and calm, soothing demeanor, it is easy to understand why so many people are compelled to open up to her.

Since she first became involved with the Helpline in 1986, Graham has worked to create a myriad of programs to provide relief and support for those who are affected by suicide.

Surviving After Suicide (SAS) is a support group that meets twice a month and provides a safe environment for people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“I had an idea that a group like this was needed,” said Graham. “Four women showed up to the first meeting on June 23, 1991, and I knew then that this was important. Most people attend meetings for about 18 months,” she explained. “Some stay longer because they’d like to help others.”

When asked how she facilitates meetings about such a heavy and sensitive subject, Graham replied, “It’s so intense in the beginning because people want answers.  People have an instinct to place blame on themselves or others. Being in a group and hearing other people share their experiences is helpful,” she said.

The Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors, or LOSS Team, sends trained volunteers onsite to provide immediate support and information for family coping with the sudden loss of a loved one. “We don’t represent the police or the paramedics,” explained Graham. “We are just there to support you and to give you the information needed to help you cope with this overwhelming circumstance.”

According to the ACTS website, the LOSS Team provides intervention services for 90 days, or longer if requested, and will assist anyone impacted by the event.

“The LOSS Team was established in February 2012, and we haven’t had a family turn us away yet,” said Graham.

Another critical service is the Renewed Hope support group. This peer-run group meets twice a month and offers a caring environment for those who have attempted suicide. Individuals can talk with others and grow stronger through sharing their experiences.

In addition to providing assistance for suicide-related crises, the ACTS Helpline has a service catering to the needs of the elderly.

Senior Link is a free call reassurance program, and individuals who are elderly or live alone can receive a regularly scheduled phone call from volunteers. This service can give people something to look forward to, and serves as a great source of comfort.

“Some elderly members of the community suffer from depression,” said Graham. “I gently remind people that you can’t control your emotions, but you can control your behavior. It’s all about your perspective and what you can do to improve your quality of life,” she shared.

Aside from taking and making phone calls to those in need, the Helpline staff delivers training throughout the community on suicide prevention and intervention, active listening, stress management, and self care. The staff is certified in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

“You don’t have to be in crisis to call the Helpline,” emphasized Graham. She explained that people have called the Helpline after fighting with a friend, breaking up with a significant other, or when they are just feeling lonely. “We can offer people resources and referrals, or we can just listen. Sometimes that’s all someone needs,” said Graham.

When asked about the Helpline’s mission for the future, Graham replied, “Our volunteers are committed to helping people. It is our hope is that we’ll create a suicide-safe community.” 

To reach the Helpline any day at any time, call 703-368-4141.

Those interested in supporting the ACTS Helpline can visit the website at and make an online donation.

The Helpline is always looking for volunteers who want to learn about active listening and helping others. For more information, call 703-221-1144 or complete a volunteer application online.

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