Photo courtesy: Gage Skidmore
Photo courtesy: Gage Skidmore
Photo courtesy: Gage Skidmore

(MTN News-BILLINGS) The day after Americans elected the nation’s 45th president, calls, and texts to suicide hotlines nearly doubled, according to data from a nationwide crisis hotline.A Billings child psychiatrist said those numbers are frightening, and it’s especially important at this time to be aware of at-risk youth and other vulnerable populations.

Crisis Text Line, a national advocacy center and a hotline for suicidal people, reported startling data on Thursday.

In the 24 hours directly following the presidential election results, the volume of calls and texts to the hotline surged.

Keywords mentioned in the texts from suicidal people included “election,” “scared” and “LGBTQ.”

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More than 5 percent of texters mentioned anxiety about a family disagreement over the election.

“It was a very hard-fought and emotional election for everyone,” said Dr. Eric Arzubi, who chairs the Psychiatric Department at Billings Clinic. “Folks who were especially vulnerable populations, who are potential targets of being bullied, are feeling very scared and nervous now after the election.”

The rhetoric involved in the election spurred outrage among many Americans, some of whom are protesting the outcome of the election across the country.

Arzubi said it’s hard to know whether or not suicide calls and texts would have surged if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, but he said, either way, the response to this data should not be political.

“People can interpret that as they wish, that’s not my job to interpret it,” said Arzubi. “My job is to pay attention that the number of calls has doubled, and it makes me worry about our community, and I’m hoping that we’re not going to see more people feeling vulnerable and contemplating suicide. I’m not concerned about the politics.”

Arzubi said now is the time to reach out to those who feel vulnerable and to stand up for those who are being bullied.

“Before the election, bullying is a problem, after the election, it’s a problem,” said Arzubi. “But this data is important to recognize. I think the number one thing we can do is don’t be a bystander. If someone is being bullied and you’re witnessing it, stop it.”

 Reporter: Aja Goare

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