"I Would Rather Be Dead": Calls To Suicide Hotlines Spike Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline have spiked 300% amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to KVLY, while the Sacramento Bee reports that other suicide prevention services  have similarly risen for the same reasons.

"It’s so scary, it’s almost like ... I would rather be dead," said suicidal writer Danielle Sinay, who lives in New York City. "I mean, I wouldn’t be, but sometimes I get so scared it feels like that."

President Donald Trump, who has been pressing to lift restrictions on most people as soon as possible, has warned of “suicides by the thousands” if people remain isolated, Forbes reported.

More than 487,000 cases of the  COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 22,000 deaths as of March 26, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 69,000 confirmed cases with more than 1,000 deaths. -Sacramento Bee

(That figure topped 523,000 infected and 23,639 deaths as of this writing just hours later, according to the same source).

"There are ramifications, sometimes fatal, with events like these that are not just related to getting infected or dying from infection or consequences of infection," said Eric Caine, co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in a statement to USA Today.

"Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger," said the CDC in a statement.

Meanwhile, the national crisis text line, they handled 6,000 text conversations last week - approximately twice the normal volume according to spokeswoman Ashley Womble.

In Portland, Oregon, suicide-related 911 calls rose 23 percent in the past 10 days, compared to the 10 days before the city declared an emergency, The Oregonian reported. All 911 calls in the city dropped 10 percent in the same period.

Other suicide prevention efforts in Portland report rising calls from people who feel anxious, depressed or frightened, but not in calls from those feeling acutely suicidal, according to the publication. Officials fear that may change. -Sacramento Bee

"If this nears a large disaster like Hurricane Katrina, there is a flood coming," said Chris Bouneff, who heads up the Oregon chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, according to The Oregonian.

And at the largest suicide prevention hotline in Massachusetts, the Samaritans, they received 350 calls per day last week, up from 250 - 275 calls they normally receive according to the Boston Globe. Text messages in March are on pace to reach a record high of more than 1,000.

Tips to fight anxiety (via the Sacramento Bee)

"Isolation is a big trigger for a lot of people," according to California social worker Norine VanderHooven. "People are becoming so anxious because they don’t know what to expect. Anxiety is fear of the unexpected or unknown."

Experts suggest that people keep to a routine schedule, exercise, eat a healthy diet, meditate and take walks to quell anxiety, The Boston Globe reported.

Avoid information overload if it increases your fear and stave off feelings of isolation by staying in touch with friends or family by phone or online, according to the publication.

“None of us are immune to this feeling of anxiety and stress,” said Leticia Sainz, interim deputy director of Multnomah County’s behavioral health division, The Oregonian reported. “I think we’re still really seeing the beginnings of the effects of this.” -Sacramento Bee

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800 273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.