Crisis Calls Rise Dramatically

Houston's Crisis Center is seeing a startling increase in the number of suicide-related calls this year. The economy and job losses are among the top reasons people say they need help. Laurie Johnson reports.
Crisis Intervention of Houston operates the region's crisis number, 713.HOTLINE. They noticed more calls were coming in, many of them related to unemployment. Executive Director Shari Koziol says they compared calls from January to June of 2010 to the same time period last year.

"It has been a 220% increase of suicide-related calls."

That's 1,446 suicide-related calls so far this year.

"People have a level of resiliance that you know can only be sustained so long. So if the joblessness for them has been going on for six months they're at a less strong point now than they were six months ago or a year ago."

And that's what makes this different. Koziol says it's typical for more calls to come in during times of stress, like the holidays, or right after 9/11.

"I think what is unusual about this particular spike is that this is a very long period, we're talking about six months of consistently rising numbers. As opposed to after 9/11 probably a month to six weeks afterward we started seeing the numbers go down."

Which is why the crisis center opened the Houston Job Hotline, 713.533.WORK. It's a 24-hour line for people who need help finding job resources and assistance. And for anyone dealing with suicide-related issues, that number again is 713.HOTLINE.

Laurie Johnson, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...