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Elk Grove Citizen

Calls to Suicide Prevention Hotline Increase 40% in March

Apr 15, 2020 12:00AM ● By By Ben Avey, WellSpace Health

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Telephone calls and texts to the Suicide Prevention and Crisis line increased by 40 percent between February and March, according to WellSpace Health which operates the region’s largest certified crisis center and answers calls made to the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Lines, Spanish Lifeline, and Veterans Lifeline.

“People feel exceptionally helpless right now and those feelings are translating to thoughts of suicide and self-harm,” said Dr. Jonathan Porteus, a licensed clinical Psychologist who is WellSpace Health’s Chief Executive Officer. “Anxiety in the community is palpable. People are more isolated as they try to cope with pandemic fears, unemployment, financials stress, and increase substance use. Add more time around firearms, increased rates of domestic violence, and it creates a dangerous paradigm.”

WellSpace Health answered 4,713 suicide and crisis calls in March, compared to 3,375 calls in February. The crisis line averaged 3,350 suicide prevention calls per month in 2019.

“As a community we need to supplement our social distancing practices with robust virtual connections,” said Porteus. “More simply put - pick up the phone, write a letter, use FaceTime. Find a way to connect with your community, but from a distance. It can save lives.” 

If someone is in crisis or feeling suicidal, they can reach a team of professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting the word HOPE to 916-668-iCAN (4226).

WellSpace Health’s certified crisis center has operated the region’s Suicide Prevention and Crisis Line for more than 50 years. It is dually accredited through the American Association of Suicidology and The Joint Commission. The WellSpace Health team trains 911 operators statewide and hostage negotiators on suicide prevention and intervention. Based in Sacramento, the crisis center answers calls from Sacramento and Placer counties, as well as hotline coverage in 50 of 58 counties in California.

WellSpace Health is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center that provides comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, and supportive services in Sacramento, Placer, and Amador counties. In 2019, WellSpace Health served 98,620 unduplicated patients at 31 locations and in the field. It is accredited by The Joint Commission for Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health and certified as a Patient Centered Health Home and Behavioral Health Home.