Holidays are usually a happy time for most people, but for others the added stress could trigger depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. That’s why the he National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is working to help those who are struggling.
The phone number is 1-800-273-TALK. It’s a nationwide service but all callers from Arkansas are routed to the Arkansas Lifeline Call Center in Little Rock.
“If you have an 870, 479, or 501 phone number, you’ll call the 1-800-273-TALK and that is automatically routed to us here at the department of health,” said Mandy Thomas, the Suicide Prevention Program Manager at the Arkansas Department of Health.
“Along with the Holidays, with Christmas and the New Year a lot of people are alone,” said Thomas. “They don’t have the friends or the family to spend time with, so we do see loneliness calls that are calling in just to talk to somebody because they are a little down.”
She said the Arkansas Lifeline Call Center receives on average 1,400 calls a month, but staff members notice a slight increase during the holidays.
“It’s a variety of calls. It could be relationship issues around the holidays,” said Thomas. “Custody problems, a husband or a wife or the mother or the father not having time with their children, it can be very difficult during the holidays.”
Thomas said those staff members go through 80 hours of training and have a long list of resources to help those who are calling and in distress.
“We’ve got a huge database of all the resources that we could possibly find within the state to help a caller,” said Thomas. “Even for loneliness, we can suggest different places to go in order to self-care, not be lonely, be around other people even if it’s the library.”
The helpline is completely confidential and free. Thomas said you can call the line even if you’re not suicidal but would like to help someone who might be.
“Even if it’s a third-party call, so you’re calling on behalf of one of your friends,” said Thomas. “We get that a lot and the person, they just don’t know what to do, they’re not sure what the next step is. We can help formulate a plan to keep that person safe.”