After celebrity suicides, calls to Colorado crisis hotline spiked. That shows how important it is to talk about mental health.
June 15, 2018 | By John Ingold
Colorado Crisis Services experienced a 60 percent increase in call volume over normal levels between Friday night and noon Sunday, said Nourie Boraie, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services. Most of those additional calls came through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which routes all calls from a Colorado area code to the statewide line.
To Andrew Romanoff, the president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, the outpouring of need shows the importance of prevention services along with the necessity of making sure everyone knows about resources available to help during a mental health crisis.
“That’s one of the reasons we are forced to respond to these crises because we didn’t do enough to prevent them,” he said.
Romanoff listed off some of the ways people can connect with help when they or a loved one are in danger:
- Colorado Crisis Services’s 24-hour help line: 1-844-493-8255
- The center’s text line, reachable by texting “TALK” to 38255
- Walk-in centers around the state
- Self-assessment screenings available on Mental Health Colorado’s website.
He said the state is also talking about how to make accessing these services easier — including with a three-digit phone number similar 911 or 411.
But he said one of the most effective resources for preventing suicide is the concern of family and friends. Parents, he said, should know it is OK to ask their children whether they are thinking about hurting themselves. Friends should ask questions, too.
“I don’t want people to be afraid to talk to their friends about what they’re going through,” he said.
Michele Betts Schultz, a Colorado advanced-practice physician assistant who specializes in psychiatry, suggested some approaches.
“You don’t seem like yourself; are you having difficulties?” was one.
She said people should listen attentively, preface their questions by expressing their unconditional support regardless of the answer and be reassuring that there is a solution that can be achieved together. The most important question, she said, if someone has expressed an interest in harming themselves: “What would stop you from acting on it?”
“And I worry when they are silent,” she said.
In the toughest of circumstances where suicide seems imminent, Betts Schultz suggested a difficult choice: consider involuntary hospitalization.
“They will be grateful,” she said, “when they are healthy again.”