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Mental-Health Services Available as Isolation Grows in OR

An Oregon clinicians stresses that people should practice physical distancing but stay in contact with people in their social circles. (macondos/Adobe Stock)
An Oregon clinicians stresses that people should practice physical distancing but stay in contact with people in their social circles. (macondos/Adobe Stock)
March 27, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. - With Oregonians ordered to stay at home during the new coronavirus pandemic, isolation could be creeping into people's lives, and that's increasing the risk of suicide.

Greg Borders is chief clinical officer of Lines for Life, a nonprofit based in Portland that works to prevent suicide and substance abuse. He says Lines for Life has received an increase in calls from people anxious about COVID-19, and also folks feeling lonely from the state's stay-home order.

Borders believes it's important to emphasize that people should increase their physical distance from others rather than their social distance.

"Because we really believe that now is not the time to be socially pulling back," says Borders. "I think it could be hugely beneficial to reach out and be as social as you can."

Borders encourages folks to reach out to loved ones and friends on platforms such as social media or over the phone. He says Lines for Life also has seen an increase in calls from people concerned about their financial future.

The Portland police reported this week that 911 calls for suicide attempts or threats are up 41% from this time last year and 23% from last week.

Borders says Lines for Life is trying to get as many clinicians as they can to pick up shifts, and since the majority are working from home, more health experts are available.

"We would encourage anybody that's feeling anxiety and stress around this, and feeling like they don't have a loved one to talk to, feeling isolated - we'd encourage them to give us a call," says Borders.

Folks can reach Lines for Life at 1-800-273-TALK. Lines for Life also has a program called Youthline, which provides teen-to-teen services daily from 4 to 10 p.m. Youths can text "TEEN2TEEN" to 839863 for help.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR