Crisis calls jump exponentially amid coronavirus pandemic

SEATTLE -- More Washingtonians are turning to crisis helplines due to the coronavirus pandemic. Crisis Connections of King County say they've seen a drastic increase in call volume.

"Normally we receive about 780 calls a day, we're now getting 3,000 calls a day," said Lauren Rigert, senior director of development and community relations.

Rigert says the types of calls have been more serious and intense.

"Folks are feeling very isolated, depressed, so a lot more suicidal calls are coming through. We have seen some suicides," said Rigert.

Crisis Connections also saw a rise in calls to their 2-1-1 hotline, which provides information and resources for people who may have lost their jobs and need basic needs like food and housing.

With the growing unemployment crisis, economic downturns, and stress caused by isolation and an uncertain future, researchers with the national public health group, Well Being Trust, say the pandemic could lead to 75,000 "deaths of despair" from suicide and drug and alcohol misuse.

Dr. Richard Adler, a forensic and clinical psychiatrist, warns that the crisis can make things worse for people already dealing with depression and anxiety. His advice is to reach out for help.

"All people are social. they need support, they need engagement and that does not mean answer every zoom call but it does mean reach out if you need help, be plain about it. It's okay, it's not an embarrassment. Reach out and get the support and help," said Adler.

Crisis Connections call lines are open 24/7. Click here for assistance.