Lots of attention is being focused on the hedge fund manager who was heavily invested in the Bernie Madoff operation and who apparently slit his wrists in his NY office. But suicidal thoughts are becoming commonplace among regular folks, too. LAT columnist David Lazarus reports that calls to L.A.'s busiest suicide hotline - (877) 7-CRISIS - have soared by as much as 60 percent over the last year. Bad times lead people to desperate measures, which is why the mental health experts are so concerned.
"What's even more noticeable than the increase in call volume is that the intensity of the calls has gone up," said Sandri Kramer, who began as a hotline volunteer at the [Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center] about 13 years ago and now is the program director. "Fear is the No. 1 emotion we're hearing. People are feeling hopeless and helpless because of the economic crisis, and many feel that things aren't going to get better." Kramer cited the case of a woman who lost her home and now lives in her car. Another caller, she said, is secretly living in a locker at a storage facility.
Kramer cited the case of a woman who lost her home and now lives in her car. Another caller, she said, is secretly living in a locker at a storage facility. "A year ago, many of the calls we would get were from people with mental illnesses," Kramer said. "Now many of the calls are from people who have lost their home, or their job, or who still have a job but can't meet the cost of living." One other big difference: Kramer said callers these days appeared to be further along in pondering their own demise, rather than just grappling with sadness or confusion.