In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential elections, the suicide prevention phone lines at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were busier than ever before. According to John Draper, the lifeline director, and his colleagues, between 1 and 2 a.m. alone there were 660 calls, which is three times the volume they were previously dealing with.
The statistic is all the more dire as the call rates were already higher than usual when this happened, as the volume was already tripled compared with its normal rates.
The trend was confirmed to have raised with other similar services as well, and Draper confirmed that in his 25 years of experience in the field, he had never experienced anything similar to this situation. Another spike the company had recorded took place after 9/11, when calls at the New York city hotline he owned back then raised over their normal parameters.
Another spike the hotline director remembers took place back in 2014, after Robin Williams committed suicide, and people started to call at abnormal rates; it was the peak of the hotline he created in 2005, since then he never experienced anything similar. The hotline director attributes the spike that occurred in 2014 to the aggressive mass media promotion and coverage of the event, which significantly influenced people's states of mind.
Highest Call Rates At The Suicide Prevention Hotlines
However, the post-election event was never correlated in mass media with the national election day, but the raise the company experienced in phone calls is still the highest the man has ever experienced. According to Draper, a possible reason for this could be the fact that the national event fueled people's preexisting anxieties and traumas, which contributed to the national despair they had witnessed the past few days.
While most of the callers accuse the elections to be their primary concern, throughout the call the staff almost always concludes that it is, in fact, their lives that they are truly worried about.
Similar Statistics Confirmed Through Other Services
Very similar to the national lifeline, the Crisis Text Line, an agency which is responsible for connecting desperate texters with counselors to help them overcome their crises, confirmed the spike in the number of cases they had to deal with, post-election. On Nov. 9, between midnight and 1 a.m., the company recorded a number eight times higher than the normal text rates they receive during a normal work day, according to its spokeswoman.
From 1,000 texters daily, the company registered a number of 2,000 texters from Nov. 8 to Nov. 9, and the number jumped to double from Nov. 9 to Nov. 10.
The rhetoric of the campaign may also be responsible for the spikes in people who are struggling with life crises, according to specialists in the field. Additionally, most of the people who called the hotlines belong to LGBT groups, whose special hotlines were even more crowded than the generic ones, after Donald Trump's victory.
This entire statistic is all the more dramatic, as the U.S. suicide rates skyrocketed to a 30-year high in 2016.