News : Suicidal Calls Spike on Valentine's Day
Jacksonville, FL, USA, Feb 13, 2015 -- Valentine's Day is a day people love, or love to hate.
In fact, it can actually be a day so dreaded that people can find themselves depressed, or even suicidal in the most extreme cases.
"We look at self-critical behavior and we found that the idea of being too hard on yourself, especially the thought of being unloved, is the best predictor of suicide, but especially the idea that you feel unloved," says UNF psychology professor Tracy Alloway.
It's no secret that the holidays are the toughest on those who are spending them alone. So a day focused on togetherness, when you have no one to be together with, can be debilitating emotionally.
"It can really strike close to home when you're looking around and you see other peers in relationships and they're being showered with love and affection, " says Alloway, "and you think you're unworthy of that and it starts this negative cycle."
One place that knows this vicious cycle better than anyone is the Jacksonville Suicide Hotline: A 211 call center that receives on average 140 suicide calls per month from the Jacksonville area.
"One of the main things you can do for someone in crisis is just be available," says Terri Swanson.
Swanson started out as a call operator specialist, but now she oversees the 211 department. Whenever she brings on a new hire, there's always one quality that stands out: compassion.
"Study after study shows often how you say something rather than what you say is of vital importance," says Swanson.
Suicide hotlines all over the country get bombarded on Valentine's Day with more calls than usual. For Jacksonville, it's an average day.
"Last February, there were 144 calls from people contemplating suicide," says Lisa Daniel, vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Northeast Florida.
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"Regardless of what they're experiencing people might have emotional traumas or might feel unloved at any time of the year," Daniel said.
For the Jacksonville hotline, the months flooded with the most calls are actually June and August.
"Whatever anyone is going through there is a solution and there is help out there," says Daniel.
The 211 hotline is available 24/7.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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