Madison County first responders see increase in suicide calls on the heels of new national hotline
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - On the heels of the launch of a nationwide suicide prevention, law enforcement in Madison County said they’ve seen an increase in suicide-related calls in the area, even though mental health resources are more accessible than ever.
Community Relations Officer for Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Incorporated, Don Webster, said June and July saw high volumes of calls.
“The last 61 days, June and July, we ended up with 350 calls for suicidal ideations,” Webster said.
That is a 100 call increase from what HEMSI usually receives. So what’s causing the uptick? Webster said they aren’t exactly sure why.
“Is it financial, is it heat, is it COVID, or is it a combination of those?” Webster said.
Webster said no matter the situation, there is help.
“We want to encourage people to seek help,” Webster said. “You have the new suicide hotline now. We hope people will take advantage of that.”
Wellstone Behavior Health answers the call when someone from North Alabama calls 988.
Jeremy Blair, Chief Executive officer of Wellstone said they haven’t seen an influx of calls.
“My guess is, we knew this all along, is that it will pick up as time goes on. The most important this is that people remember that number, 988,” said Blair.
Blair encourages anyone struggling with mental health issues to seek help before it is a crisis.
“We are in the very infantile stages of it,” Blair said. “When 911 was launched it wasn’t perfect on day one so we will continue to refine our responses and the resources that go along with it.”
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