Ore. suicide hotline calls surge since Williams death

Callers mostly those concerned about others

PORTLAND, Ore. - Following Robin Williams' death, there has been a near-doubling in calls to the Lines for Life Suicide Lifeline from friends and family members concerned about a loved one's risk for suicide. The Portland organization's surge in calls reflects the national trend this week.

"The rise in phone calls is coming mostly from those who have been concerned about another person for a while and have been prompted to act now," said David Westbrook, former crisis line director, now chief operating officer, at Lines for Life. "This is exactly what we urge people to do – to start a conversation and take action so we can help prevent suicide."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK) and its national network, including its only Oregon affiliate, Lines for Life,  answers more than 1 million calls a year, providing help, hope, support and recovery to callers in emotional distress and suicidal crisis. 

On Aug. 10, just one day prior to Robin Williams' death by suicide, Lifeline answered over 3,000 calls. Within 24 hours after his death on Aug. 11, Lifeline's call volume more than doubled.

On Aug. 12, Lifeline received 7,375 calls nationwide, the highest number of calls on one given day in the history of the Lifeline. 

Independent evaluations of this service funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have shown that callers to Lifeline's centers typically experience significant reductions in emotional and suicidal distress. As awareness of this vital service grows, more lives are being saved.

Trained to listen and not to judge, the crisis intervention specialists establish rapport with callers and help them reconnect with their reasons for living.

Increased public awareness and actions taken towards suicide prevention is perhaps the one good thing to come out of this tragedy.

Lines for Life's message to the public is "Take action. Call us and we'll help you help them."

The 24/7 phone number for the Lines for Life Suicide Lifeline is (800) 273-TALK (8255)

About Lines for Life: Founded in 1993, Lines for Life is a 501-3c nonprofit organization whose mission is to end substance abuse and suicide. Lines for Life is the region's leading nonprofit organization that promotes healthy communities through drug and alcohol awareness  and 24-hour crisis lines for mental health, treatment referral, crisis counseling, and suicide intervention.

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