David Earl Johnson, LICSW

3 minute read

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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According to The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va, calls to crisis lines in Virginia have jumped 20 percent in the past two months.
“People say the economy is pushing them to the edge — and some are contemplating going over. Widespread financial stress has long been linked to an increase in suicides. Job loss is at the heart of it, kick-starting a “chain of adversity” that feels too heavy for some to bear. [..] Most people, he said, won’t crumble in times like these. “This may well get them down, but they’ll weather it.” For the chronically depressed, however, or those prone to suicidal thoughts: “This could be the tipping point.” Christy Letsom runs a crisis hot line in downtown Norfolk that collects calls from across the region. Volume there holds steady at around 55 calls a day, but when compared with the same time last year, logs show a 113 percent increase in the number of people who say they’re anxious about money or employment. Most of those callers are between 30 and 50 years old. Men and women are dialing equally. Many are worried not so much for themselves, but for someone else they fear is at risk. Few have called a hot line before. “These folks are hard-working people who have never experienced the kind of crisis they’re in right now,” Letsom said. “They’re simply overwhelmed.” [..] At the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, calls spiked by more than a third last year — to 568,437, up from 412,768 in 2007. [..] More than 12 million Americans already are out of work, and according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 4 million homeowners are at least one month behind on their house payments. A record 1.5 million homes are in foreclosure. [..] It’s critical, experts say, to keep perspective. Hard times have come and gone before. “We’ll get through this,” Nunnally said, “and come out better for it.” In the meantime, Letsom said, people should stop blaming themselves. “We really all kind of overextended ourselves,” she said. “Jobs were great, we all thought the economy was great, and that just hasn’t turned out to be the reality.” Other people can be the best medicine, Nunnally said: “Talk to each other. It reminds you that you’re not alone.””
This is sage advice. It’s important to remember that money and jobs are a means to an end, we use money to make a better place to live for ourselves and our family. Even without income, we have each other. It becomes critically important to stay connected, even strengthen our connections in these trying times. And its timely for those of us still fortunate to be employed to build new and stronger ties with others. After loss, it’s not the time to be making new connections when our judgment is impaired by desperation.
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