The emotional toll of a bleak economy

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There’s been a significant jump in the number of people calling crisis hotlines in Minnesota.

“We’ve had a 27 percent increase from the first quarter of 2008 to the last quarter of the year,” according to Linda Schmid, clinical director of Crisis Connection, which operates the Twin Cities crisis line, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in Minnesota, Men’s Line Twin Cities and Minnesota Link Vet. ” We’re seeing a higher proportion of men calling. I can only speculate anecdotally that these calls are about employment and financial issues and men are particularly distressed.”

Calls to the Minnesota suicide hotline are up 35 percent, she said.

Overall calls doubled in October, when the stock market crashed and the first large waves of layoffs were made.

“I can’t say that there’s a typical caller. Some people call for a referral (for help). Most want to talk; sometimes they just know they’re distressed and want to talk,” Schmid said.

The organization recorded 9,300 calls in the first quarter of 2008, and 11,500 in the last three months of the year. About 90 percent of the calls come from the Twin Cities, according to Schmid.

The experience of the Minnesota crisis organization is mirrored throughout the country. In Pennsylvania, calls to a crisis hotline have doubled, Oregon officials say more victims of domestic abuse are calling, a hotline in Tennessee reports they’re getting more suicide calls in a week than they used to get in a month, and Illinois has seen a significant increase in calls from people who are losing their homes.

(MPR file photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

  • Chad

    At a time when mental health funding is being slashed…

    The fat in government indeed.

  • Joanna

    I also wonder about the ripple effect in the area of domestic violence services.

  • Linda Schmid

    Thanks for getting this important information out to the public. As noted, the number of calls to our crisis lines is increasing and the threats to people’s financial health are a larger focus of our counseling these days. I wanted to clarify, however, that the number of calls focusing on employment and financial issues doubled in October, not the overall number of calls to our crisis lines. And to our colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Crisis Connection answers only the crisis calls for Minnesota LinkVet, not all calls. Thank you to Bob Collins for acknowledging the important work of our dedicated staff and volunteers.

    Linda Schmid, PhD, LP

    Clinical Director

    Crisis Connection