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‘The impact of the loss of human touch’: Philly-area suicide hotlines see an increase in calls related to coronavirus

When Gov. Tom Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for Philadelphia-area residents on March 23, Julie Peticca braced herself for a deluge of calls to the Montgomery County suicide prevention hotline. Peticca, the director of crisis intervention at Montgomery County Emergency Service Inc., knew that isolation could exacerbate mental health issues, especially for people with depression and anxiety.

The first two weeks were quieter than she expected. But then the calls flooded in. On one day in March, Peticca said her team received 25 calls — more than double the center’s daily average.

“People dealt with not having access to their usual coping mechanisms OK for the first few weeks, but now we’re settling into a longer situation,” Peticca said. “We’re seeing the impact of the loss of human touch.”

Other suicide hotlines across the country are experiencing similar patterns. A Los Angeles mental health clinic reported 1,800 COVID-19 related calls in March, compared with just 20 in February. Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services said it has seen calls double since March 13.

Read the full article at Inquirer.com: ‘The impact of the loss of human touch’: Philly-area suicide hotlines see an increase in calls related to coronavirus