When the call arrived at PMA Insurance Group's customer contact center in Allentown, Pa., it was unlike most of the in-bound inquiries normally fielded at the sprawling facility."The agents at our contact center assist injured workers seeking claims-related indemnity or medical payment status," explains Meg Schumer, assistant vice president of call centers for the Blue Bell, Pa.-based mid-size property/casualty insurer. "But in the midst of a call, an individual informed one of our agents that he was contemplating ending his life. Our agent began to talk the individual through the crisis-basically got him to calm down-and then sought intervention from crisis counselors, who took it from there."

When the inquiries arrived on Sept. 11, 2001 at the corporate Web site of Chicago-based insurance brokerage giant Aon Corp., they were unlike any others.

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