SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
In recent months, a hotline in Marin County has been steadily getting more calls every month from people looking for a lifeline with some citing the pandemic at the center of their woes.
With a pandemic keeping people apart and the holidays coming up loneliness can be a major factor so callers are turning to this hotline for human connection and a helping hand even if from a distance.
The image of wealth and health in Marin County contradicts a morbid fact that it leads the Bay Area and is above the state average in the number of people who take their own lives.
As people are isolated through restrictions meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19, help is a phone call away with a national hotline 1-800-273-TALK.
“We are seeing though that many people are reporting loneliness and isolation. We also are seeing that many people are also trying to reach out to get resources and to connect with people which is actually a good sign,” Dr. Jei Africa said.
With a pandemic in full force, a call center called Buckelew Prevention Hotline has started tracking whether coronavirus has played a factor in these dark thoughts.
In July, of 329 Marin County callers, 62 cited coronavirus related issues.
In October, there were less with 32 of 284 people who reached out.
“Individuals, I think, were locked down in terms of our stay at home orders. There was a higher volume of calls and one of the things we know for any behavioral health condition is that isolation negatively impacts that,” Chris Kueghn said.
As we approach the holidays, it isn’t confirmed but it is suspected that more people may have these thoughts come up.
“Whether it’s a myth or not, I think that the holidays are a time when people tend to feel like they can come together and be connected, so I think during this time especially, where we’re not able to connect with each other, it’s definitely a sense of increased isolation and whether you call it feeling down or just feeling disconnected from your core group whether it’s family or friends,” Kueghn said.
A person on the other line is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Anyone with a Marin or Sonoma County area code will automatically get routed from the national hotline to the local Buckelew call center.
They also set up a support group for survivors of suicide support for family members who have lost someone.
Dr. Africa says it’s very important for people to check in on their friends and loved ones with a simple question, ‘are you okay?’