Crisis hotlines see spike in calls post-election

Posted at 8:57 AM, Nov 17, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- After months of campaigns, ads and rhetoric, the race for the White House ended with a new president-elect who not many anticipated.

No matter your political affiliation, the fallout has had an impact on most everyone, leading some to anguish, depression, or even worse. Crisis hotline operators are seeing a surge in calls like never before, up two to three times, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The same is happening in West Michigan, with people calling crisis hotlines expressing fears about what the future holds.

Experts fielding these calls tell me this is not the first time they've seen this kind of spike. Significant events "can overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope," said Scott Gilman, executive director of Network 180, Kent County's crisis hotline. "We have definitely seen an increase in calls, definitely since the election."

Gilman says the surge in calls started Wednesday morning. While some worried they'll lose their insurance and medication, others reported significant anxiety, such as worries that a family member or friend will be deported. Some are calling because they feel suicidal.

Gilman believes people with pre-existing anxieties were simply triggered by events. Therapist Gary Bonn agrees, adding the same thing happened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"Change brings a lot of anxiety, I think, and that’s what we’re seeing a lot of," Bonn said."At this clinic, I think it’s the general consensus with the other therapists here that people are really needing to talk. There is a sense of nervousness that’s going on here."

With new reports of harassment, intimidation and hate crimes attributed to the election results, President Obama reminded Americans last week to give Trump a chance. "I'd been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people," he said.

Bonn agrees, adding that everything gets better in time.

"It’s so quick and easy for folks to get caught up in what’s going on right now in this moment, and it’s important for them to see that there’s a bigger picture involved and that things always get better," Bonn said. "They always have in the history in this country, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t now, too."

The chair at the Muskegon Suicide Prevention Coalition tells FOX 17 they have not seen a spike in calls since the election but urges those in need of help to call.

If someone you know is talking about dying, are pulling away, or seems anxious constantly, check in with them and make sure they are okay.

Help may only be a few clicks away:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Network 180: 1-616-336-3909
  • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
  • Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741741
  • Muskegon Suicide Prevention Coalition: 231-722-HELP

If someone you know is wanting to die, call 911 immediately.