Suicide hotline calls increase after election

By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photo Editor~

A “record number of calls” to Trans Lifeline, a 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention hotline by and for the transgender community, were recorded following Donald Trump’s presidential win last week.

Similarly, calls spiked for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and The Trevor Project, as well as texts spiking for Crisis Text Line. Greta Martela, Trans Lifeline’s co-founder and executive director, told ABC News that the hotline received more calls during election night and the following day than in all of November 2015.

Project Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline John Draper told CNN that the link between the election results and the spike in calls is “pretty undeniable.” After working in suicide prevention for 25 years, Draper says, “I can’t say I’ve seen anything like this… And it’s certainly not something I’ve ever seen in an election.”

The day after the election, the top two words mentioned by texters to the Crisis Text Line were “election” and “scared.” The phrase “LGBTQ” was most commonly tied to the word “scared.”

According to CNN, The Trevor Project fielded 70 percent more calls post-election than following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fl., in June. The organization’s deputy director Steve Mendelsohn told CNN, “Young people are calling us who’ve never called us before. They’re scared, and they don’t know who to turn to… Given all the rhetoric that they’ve heard leading up to the election, it makes sense that they’re frightened.”

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Nearly half of transgender youth have contemplated suicide, and a quarter have made an attempt, according to The Trevor Project’s website.

Callers have expressed concern for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, loss of insurance and uncertainty about how to acquire hormones or undergo surgeries. According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 2016 has been the deadliest year for transgender people in the United States. GLAAD said that the murders of 24 transgender people have been reported, though the number could be higher due to misgendering.

Xavier LGBTQ Alliance, Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) are gathering for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday, Nov. 21, at 5 p.m. in the CFJ office (GSC 310). The day is recognized internationally to remember the more than 60 people worldwide who have been killed this year due to anti-transgender violence. The name of each person will be read off, and there will be thoughtful discussion regarding issues like the alarming 13 percent unemployment rate for transgender people and unprotected housing.

Kelsey O’Neil, Assistant Director for the CDI, described the Wednesday following Election Day.

“Things just felt really heavy,” O’Neil said. ”But I do feel like there are a lot of people who are sharing my sentiments, are sharing concern for their fellow students, staff and faculty, regardless of their political views. It’s not about politics. It’s about the respect of your fellow students.”

After the election, reports of hate crimes have been pouring in. As of Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has counted more than 300 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” since Election Day. The organization’s president Richard Cohen says, “They’ve been everywhere — in schools, in places of business like Wal-Mart, on the street.”

According to the Buffalo News, a softball dugout in Wellsville, N.Y., was vandalized with a swastika and the words “Make America white again.” The Washington Post reported that a Muslim student in Ann Arbor, Mich., was approached by a man threatening to set her on fire unless she removed her hijab. Bathrooms at Maple Grove Senior High School in Minnesota have been graffitied with “#Go back to Africa” and “Make America great again,” according to ABC.

Xavier’s LGBTQ Alliance aims to provide a safe space for students if they are experiencing uncertainty and fear following the election.

“I want to help students, faculty and staff who are feeling alone right now to know that they are not alone, that the community here at Xavier and CDI cares about them and are here to support them,” O’Neil said. “They encourage students to use resources, practice self-care and be patient.”

Xavier’s LGBTQ Alliance meets Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. in the CDI.