By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Calls to a suicide crisis hotline have increased across the Sacramento region, one company says.

According to WellSpace Health, which claims to have the region’s largest certified crisis center, says calls to its suicide prevention and crisis line increased by 40 percent between February and March. They also answer calls made to the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Lines.

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The company’s CEO traces the increase in suicidal thoughts to factors out of people’s control.

“People feel exceptionally helpless right now and those feelings are translating to thoughts of suicide and self-harm,” said Dr. Jonathan Porteus, a licensed clinical psychologist and CEO of WellSpace Health.

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In March, WellSpace Health says it answered 4,713 suicide and crisis calls, compared to 3,375 calls in February. In 2019, the crisis line averaged 3,350 suicide prevention calls per month.

Porteus encourages people to find a way to connect with people virtually.

“More simply put – pick up the phone, write a letter, use FaceTime. Find a way to connect with your community, but from a distance. It can save lives,” he said.

Medical experts offered the following tips to help during this difficult time:

  • Connect with people
  • Meditate
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Exercise
  • Express your feelings
  • Keep an eye on the people around you
  • Use the suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255)
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If someone is in crisis or feeling suicidal, they can reach a team of professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting the word HOPE to 916-668-iCAN (4226).