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Greater Twin Cities United Way launches new lifeline, reports thousands of calls in June alone

The non-profit says nearly 3,000 people reached out for help from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline this month.

Many of us are facing challenges that can be overwhelming and stressful. Experts say the pandemic only exacerbated those feelings.

The Greater Twin Cities United Way recognized the deep impacts on our mental health and recently started a new support system for anyone who might need help.

Executive Director Carolina De Los Rios launched the organization's Suicide Prevention Lifeline in January and says the calls to the line keep going up. 

"Every month was going by, we saw more and more calls come in," said De Los Rios. "What we saw in January is very different from what we were getting now."

She said sometimes the eight counselors on staff, who are working from home due to the pandemic, can field up to 80 calls a day.

"When they call, the first thing you hear is, I don't have any hope that my situation is going to change," said De Los Rios. "That sense of helplessness is very shocking to hear from communities."

A year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 40% of adults struggle with mental health or substance abuse. De Los Rios says some of their callers are as young as nine-years-old and are experiencing anxiety, sadness and confusion.

Her team is trained to listen, form safety plans and follow-up 48-hours later.

"When they call us we bring them a space which this is safe, it's confidential, you can talk to me about anything," she said.

De Los Rios' mission is to make mental health programs more accessible. The hotline is open 24/7 and someone is always there to take your call. The local line has already served nearly 11,000 people.

To reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, you can call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). 

The United Way also staffs 2-1-1 for help with social services like housing and childcare. 

And there are other direct lines available to people nationwide too.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1; or text 838255
  • Crisis Text Line: text the word 'Home' to 741-741
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: call 1-866-488-7386
  • The Trans Lifeline: call 1-877-565-8860

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