- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line saw increases in traffic recently after fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took their lives within days of each other, spurring news organizations and social-media users to promote the services out of concern for those wrestling with suicidal tendencies.

Promoted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, both the lifeline and text line offer users free and confidential interaction with counselors. 

The toll-free telephone hotline — 1-800-273-8255 —saw a 25 percent increase June 6-7 from the previous week, a Lifeline spokesperson told The Washington Times. Call volume surged again in the following days, June 8-9, by 65 percent.

“The Lifeline phone number is being shared widely by the media and on social media platforms, making more people aware of the resource and resulting in more people getting help from the Lifeline,” the spokesperson said.

The Crisis Text Line, an organization launched by the former CEO of DoSomething.org Nancy Lublin, also saw a surge.

Elizabeth Eddy, director of communications for the Crisis Text Line, said the text volume increased by 116 percent June 8-9 compared to the previous weekend. It has slowly decreased since then, but remains “higher than normal.”

Ms. Eddy explained that in the surge, there was a higher rate of older texters, “those likely more familiar” with Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain. Usually, only 23 percent of those reaching out to the text line were aged 25-54, but during that spike, 32 percent fell into that demographic.

“We have seen increases in volume during similar events in the past including the deaths of Chester Bennington and Robin Williams,” she said.

The uptick in attention paid to mental health came as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on suicide June 7.

The report showed that suicide is more prevalent than in recent decades. From 1999 through 2016, suicide rates increased more than 30 percent. In 2016, nearly 45,000 people were lost to suicide.

Both national hotlines offer anonymity but through various means.

To speak to an individual, one can call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, they can contact the hotline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

Those who do not want to speak, but still need to talk can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to the number 741741.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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