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Suicide Prevention Helpline 'Is Like a Busy Emergency Room' after Calls Double


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline says its calls doubled from 2014 to 2017, revealing just how prevalent suicide has become.

According to USA Today, the helpline answered more than 2 million calls in 2017, up from approximately one million calls in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, the helpline answered more 1.5 million calls each year.

"This work is like a busy emergency room to some degree, even though the patients aren't physically here with us," clinical supervisor William Zimmermann told USA Today. "It's busy, hectic, demanding work at times."

The recent suicide deaths of high-profile celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain seem to be bringing more attention to the helpline.

"Due to media events and increased public awareness of suicide prevention and the lifeline's services, more people are aware of this resource and are getting help and support," spokeswoman Frances Gonzalez said. "The lifeline has been proven to de-escalate moments of crisis and help people find hope." 

The steady increase coincides with new data that names suicide as the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34 in America.

According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rates of suicide rose 30% overall between the years of 2000 and 2016.

"Since 2000, there was an average 1% increase in the suicide rate each year up until 2006, when the suicide rate then increased to 2% annually through 2016," wrote Holly Hedegaard, MD, of the NCHS Office of Analysis and Epidemiology in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Although the data saw a rise in suicides among both sexes, women had a higher rise in suicides – a 50 percent increase from 2000 to 2016.

The study shows that women aged 45 - 64 had the highest suicide rate.

Among men, there was a 21 percent increase in the suicide rate during the ten-year analysis.

Dr. Timothy Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, told CBN News the church has a role in stopping the suicide epidemic.

"The church, the community of believers out there need to get more serious about mental health-related issues and themes in everyday life," he said. "We need to bring this to the front and center, to the forefront of the church."

Suicide warning signs include:

  • Talking or writing about suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Contacting people to say goodbye
  • Giving important things away

People feeling desperate can get immediate help from the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800 237-TALK.


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