Los Angeles suicide hotline sees 75-fold hike with 1,500 calls in March due to coronavirus concerns

The charity organization's data exhibited that out of the 1,519 callers who spoke about COVID-19, one in five people expressed a desire to kill themselves


                            Los Angeles suicide hotline sees 75-fold hike with 1,500 calls in March due to coronavirus  concerns
(Getty Images)
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A suicide crisis hotline in Los Angeles has reportedly received over 1,500 calls about coronavirus, stating that calls linked to the deadly virus and its societal repercussions have had a 75-fold hike over the past month.

Didi Hirsch's Suicide Crisis Line, an organization that runs one of the largest suicide line call centers in the United States, also warned that the current numbers could significantly increase over the coming weeks as people break under the stress of the pressure of lost jobs, nationwide shutdown, and loved ones lost to COVID-19, the Daily Mail reported. 

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According to the charity, the major concerns among callers were "anxiety, stress, fear of eviction, inability to paying utilities and take care of family, unemployment, health concerns or losing loved ones to the virus." Lyn Morris, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, while talking to the outlet said that it is possible that the calls would "skyrocket" in the coming weeks. 

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Mental health experts have expressed concerns for people struggling with anxiety and depression amid the federal lockdown in the United States (Getty Images)

"We've taken over 1,500 calls already in March just specifically related to the coronavirus and I do believe that will continue to increase," she said, adding that around 500 of these calls made were just in the past seven days. "Our history with things like this, like in the 2008 recession, the first couple of weeks it's a little hard to gauge call volume because everybody's in shock, taking care of their basic needs first."

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"Then the weeks after are usually when we start to see the call volume really increase," Morris continued. "Two weeks from now, we're probably going to see a big increase as the fear, the anxiety builds, and as the death toll from coronavirus rises we would expect that."

The charity organization's data exhibited that out of the 1,519 callers who spoke about COVID-19, one in five people expressed a desire to kill themselves. The data showed that anxiety or stress were prime concerns for 43 percent of the callers, at least 25 percent had health concerns, 21 percent had relationship concerns, while nearly 19 percent of the callers to the suicide line were concerned about loneliness or isolation. 

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Previous year's figures from the same organization showed that most callers to the helpline are generally young, with only 14 percent of them aged 45 or older on average. However, the people calling the helpline over the past few weeks tended to be older, with 37 percent of them aged above 45. 

Seniors shop for groceries during special hours open to seniors and the disabled at Northgate Gonzalez Market, a Hispanic specialty supermarket, on March 19, 2020, in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

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"We've had three times as many calls from people 45 and older. They're dealing with retirement issues, employment and family issues, is what it seems," Morris said. She continued that more of the callers were females who expressed anxiety over the effects of the novel coronavirus. Morris added that the lockdown appeared to be hitting women the hardest. 

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"Females are calling more for the COVID crisis. We're not sure yet what that's about," Morris said. "Preliminary data is showing that they tend to be more responsible for the kids, who are at home now. And they are probably the ones stocking up on supplies, and tend to be the ones that take on that caretaker role."

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 160,000 people in the US, with a confirmed death toll of over 3,100. The virus, worldwide, has affected 780,000 people and has taken more than 37,000 lives even as the number continues to grow.

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