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Suicide Prevention And Crisis Hotlines Surge In Call Volume Post-Election

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The minute the results of the U.S. presidential elections were confirmed, the suicide prevention phones at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline began ringing off the hook, busier than ever.

John Draper, the lifeline director, received around 660 calls between 1:00 to 2:00 a.m. alone – three times more than the calls they usually deal with, Tech Times reports. The numbers looked even grimmer as call rates were already up when the sudden surge happened. The same trend was documented across other suicide prevention hotlines.

Draper remarked that in his 25 years in the field, this was a first.

I can’t say I’ve seen anything like this. And it’s certainly not something I’ve ever seen in an election.

The last time the lifeline saw a dramatic increase in their call volume was during the 9/11 bombings, which Draper experienced at a New York City suicide lifeline service he owned back in 2011. He recalls a spike in calls in 2014, around the time actor-comedian Robin Williams took his own life, which Draper attributes to the significant media attention the death received.

But the post-election numbers are the highest the company has ever experienced, Draper confirms. He adds that the results is likely triggering personal, pre-existing anxieties and traumas, in addition to the sense of national despair in the wake of the radical shift in government.

Most of the callers blame the elections for their concerns, the lifeline handlers report, but the ultimate root is almost always their personal worries about their lives.

The Crisis Text Line, an agency that works to connect counselors with those seeking help in addressing their problems, said that they likewise saw a sharp increase in their SMS volume after the elections. Between midnight and 1:00 a.m. of November 9, the company documented numbers eight times higher than usual, according to spokesperson Liz Eddy.

The Trevor Project, the leading crisis and suicide prevention platform for LGBTQ+ youth, reported that their call volume doubled after the elections, and has stayed constant, CNN reports. Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director, says that some 95% of their callers discussed the election. Mendelsohn says, “Young people are calling us who’ve never called us before. They’re scared, and they don’t know who to turn to. Given all the rhetoric that they’ve heard leading up to the election, it makes sense that they’re frightened.”

Greta Martel, co-founder and executive director of Trans Lifeline, says they can hardly keep up with the calls they’ve been getting. Since the election, their normal call volume of 60 has jumped to over 500 a day. Martel says callers are panicking about what the future might hold. “It’s just overwhelming,” she says. “It’s basically apocalyptic right now. I don’t know what’s going to fix this for us.”

Draper reminds those who need comfort to talk to someone, and give a hand to each other. One of the best ways to help is to hold on to kindness and compassion. “Creating a more kind, personal atmosphere is really needed right now,” he adds.


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