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COVID-19 Calls Take Over Concerns at Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline has seen a 17% increase in calls related to social isolation and loneliness since mid-March. (Kimmo Räisänen/Flickr)
The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline has seen a 17% increase in calls related to social isolation and loneliness since mid-March. (Kimmo Räisänen/Flickr)
May 28, 2020

BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is stepping up to support folks under greater stress from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lee Flinn, the hotline's director, says call volume has been the same since February -- about 1,000 calls per month -- but concerns related to COVID-19 are taking over most calls.

"An increase in anxiety, loneliness, interpersonal conflicts have increased -- and that includes reports of domestic violence -- and, of course, we've also been hearing more reports of stress related to job loss," she states.

Flinn says the hotline, which also performs crisis intervention, has seen a 25% increase in referrals from emergency rooms and crisis centers as well. She says the hotline is working with a skeleton crew -- about 90 highly trained volunteers were sent home in mid-March to prevent the spread of the virus.

Flinn says the volunteers at home are wishing they could be back on the job.

"Although it's an incredibly stressful time, it's a time where more than ever they want to serve in that role and help their fellow Idahoans," she states.

Flinn says stressors such as anxiety, job loss and interpersonal conflict existed before COVID-19.

"What makes it more difficult now is that the pandemic is adding to a lot of the real-life difficulties that a lot of Idahoans already feel and are already struggling with," she explains.

Flinn says people don't have to feel suicidal to call the hotline. They can call for help with crisis intervention. The number is 208-398-HELP.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID