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Suicide Prevention Hotline Sees Spike in Calls Day After Death of Robin Williams

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The death of Robin Williams has had quite an impact on many across the nation. One result has been a significant bump in the number of calls to the national suicide help line. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

Calls into centers like this one spiked the day after the immensely popular actor and comedian, Robin Williams, died of a suicide last week.

"The day following the announcement of his death Lifeline experienced a more than doubling of the call volumes," says MHA-NYC Center for Policy Advocacy and Education Director Lisa Furst.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received its highest call volume in one day, ever: 7,375 calls on August 12.

The day before Williams' death, there were about 3,000 calls nationwide.

Lifenet, the city's branch of Lifeline also saw a doubling of calls on August 12, receiving 447 calls and 427 the day after that.

So far this year, the average number of calls to Lifenet, daily, is just over 200.

"He was very well known. I think that with the news of his passing, efforts were made to let people know that the lifeline existed, that there was a national resource that anybody could call at any time to get help," Furst says.

Here at Lifenet which serves the NY metropolitan area and at Lifeline call centers all across the country the crisis counselors answering calls are all trained mental health professionals.

"...who can listen to someone's concerns, what their needs are, provide supports, provide information about where they can go for treatment if they're struggling with depression, if they're having suicidal thinking," Furst says.

Some of the common signs of depression include persistent sad, anxious, empty feelings, irritability, loss of interest in activities you normally enjoyed, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, insomnia, overeating or loss of appetite, and thoughts of suicide.

"Suicide is very often preventable and even significant mental health issues like depression are highly treatable and people can go on, with the rights kinds of services and supports to feel so much better," Furst says.

You can reach the counselors at Lifenet for yourself or a loved one by calling 1-800-273-TALK.

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