Suicide prevention helplines see increased volume in wake of high-profile deaths

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Health officials say that suicides of several high-profile people have led to an increase in volume to suicide prevention helplines.

The most recent deaths were fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and New Jersey native Anthony Bourdain.

"We’ve had a tremendous increase in call volume- over 100 percent increase in call volume since Friday,” says NJ Hopeline clinician supervisor William Zimmerman.

Zimmerman says that extra staff has been brought in to the Rutgers Health National Call Center in order to make sure there are enough people to take the phone lines. He says that the clinic typically takes in an average of 125 calls per day. But he says that the number has spiked with a high of 260 calls in one day.

Clinicians will first simply listen to a caller and then either assist them directly or connect them with other support or services. If someone is concerned about a loved one, clinicians can contact that person.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal says that in New Jersey 26 percent of people who die by suicide in a crisis situation told someone else first that it was their intention.

“The call volumes, particularly for the age group of folks above the age of 25, has gone up significantly again since last week, because people are aware of the resources and aware of the risk,” Elnahal says.

Suicide prevention helplines are available 24 hours a day. The NJ Hopeline can be reached at 855-654-6735. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

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