I saw warnings of it on my Facebook feed leading up to election day. Friends of mine saying they were cutting out social media for their mental health, friends begging for company so they wouldn’t be alone, friends opening up about the very real pain and danger of a Trump presidency: they were scared they wouldn’t be able to resist suicidal thoughts.
Any moment I’m not actively distracting myself with TV, work, or playing with my cats, I feel anxious. My eye started twitching last night, and my shoulders ache more than normal thanks to the tension I’m carrying around with me. I know, and I hope you do too, that self-harm and suicide are never a good answer to any problem, but these worries can sometimes sweep away rational thoughts.
These anxieties about the future and about what this means for America are a common thread across the nation right now. Suicide prevention and crisis hotlines all over the country are reporting extreme increases in call and text rates.
Unsurprisingly, the Trans Lifeline experienced a record-breaking 300 calls in 24 hours. Transgender people are 22 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population, and this sudden increase after the election results were announced showed how much the news impacted this community.
Greta Martela, executive director and founder of Trans Lifeline, told me they are seeing unprecedented numbers. “We answered more calls since the election than we answered in all of November last year,” she said in an email. “Our incoming call volume is holding steady at 500 calls per 24 hours.” You can support Trans Lifeline here; they need $41 thousand this November to support the 41% of trans people who attempt suicide.
The Crisis Text Line, a counseling service that works via text, reported a 200% increase on Tuesday and into Wednesday; that went up to a 400% increase by Thursday. Their homepage is now dedicated to post-election crisis management.
In a statement sent out on Wednesday, the Crisis Text Line said the top two things mentioned by texters are “election” and “scared,” with the most common association with “scared” being “LGBTQ.”
Both the Crisis Text Line and Trans Lifeline are focusing on self-care and giving yourself time to process your feelings. Crisis Text Line suggested trying to do a random act of kindness, as “putting love out there in the world is an amazing way to help someone else—and you—feel happy.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK, saw a 30% jump on Monday in their calls, and a 140% increase Tuesday evening through Wednesday. Frances Gonzalez, director of communications for the lifeline, suggested people try to stick to their routines, seek social supports, and take compassionate, caring actions to support others. “Be the one to help a friend in crisis, or a stranger in need, or volunteer to assist others in a cause that you care about.”
As of right now, there have been unsubstantiated reports of eight suicides and suicide attempts since the election by transgender people, according to parents in unnamed transgender support groups. Even if these claims end up being false, the facts of the upcoming Trump presidency, his vice president’s support of conversion therapy, and how 2016 has already been the worst year on record for violence against trans women, we know in the pits of our stomachs that things aren’t going to get miraculously better for any of the LGBTQA community.
Donate time or money to the suicide prevention lines, attend rallies or protests in your area, or just reach out to those you love and know might need to hear your support. The best way we can get through whatever happens in the next four years is by sticking together.