Data tracked by the Samaritans Southcoast, formerly the Samaritans of FR/NB, show that callers used the hotline for fairly consistent reasons from last year, with a few notable exceptions.
The Samaritans track about 15 general stressors or reasons people call the hotline. Although people might assume that the majority of calls are from those experiencing thoughts of suicide, that isn’t the case.
In February, 2021, for example, 11% of calls were from those who were suicidal at the start of the call, up from 6% in the same time period in 2020.
The biggest increase in reasons for calling the hotline for the month of February 2021 versus February 2020, was for anxiety and stress.
Seventy-eight percent of callers mentioned these reasons for seeking help versus 44% in February 2020. Likewise, relationship stressors also saw an increase, with 43% of callers mentioning them in February versus 25% in the same month in 2020.
COVID-19 was a factor for 21% of callers, versus none in February of 2020 before the virus had been designated a pandemic or widespread shutdowns occurred.
Four of the tracked reasons dropped from last February, all of them slightly. Work and school dropped to 8% from 10% last February; physical illness or disability decreased from 15% to 12%; mental illness decreased from 41% to 33%; and the death of a family member or friend dropped to 5% from 14% in 2020.
In total, Samaritans Southcoast answered 987 calls last month versus 1,096 in February 2020. Of that number, 28% were new callers versus 16% new callers in February of 2020.