Since Election, Calls to Suicide Hotlines Have Increased, But Callers Might Be Missing a Key Message

Since Donald Trump was elected President on Tuesday, suicide hotlines have seen record increases in the number of calls they’re receiving.

Trans Lifeline, a suicide prevention hotline, told Buzzfeed News that it usually averages about 50 calls a day — but in the few days immediately following the election, they received over 500 calls.

While election stress is a normal phenomenon, Lynn Bufka, the executive director of practice research and policy for the American Psychological Association (APA), claims there are reasons this election may be affecting people more than previous ones.

She noted:

“Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory.”

The Trevor Project, a national leader in crisis and suicide prevention support, also saw an increase in the number of people who needed help, citing the number of calls have doubled post-election.

Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director for The Trevor Project, said that 95% of its callers wanted to talk about the election. He told CNN:

“It’s been ongoing since Tuesday night,” he explained. “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.”

And reports point to the increase in contacts to hotlines and crisis text lines coming from the LGBTQ community.

These reports of increased fear among the LGBTQ community come at the precipice of what may be a historic relationship between a Republican president and their community. Although people have used words to depict Trump as anti-gay, his actions seem to shed a different light.

At a late October rally in Greeley, Colorado, Donald Trump asked a member of the audience to borrow the flag he was holding. Within minutes Trump was walking across the stage with a big smile on his face, showcasing proudly a rainbow flag with the words “LGBT for Trump” written on it.

Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Jason Miller, told The Washington Times:

“Mr. Trump is campaigning to be President for ALL Americans and was proud to carry the ‘LGBT for Trump‘ rainbow flag on stage in Greeley, CO yesterday.”

In an interview with The Advocate in 2000, Trump said that he believed amending the Civil Rights Act was necessary to grant the same protection to gay people as other Americans. The interview also highlighted his opinion in favor of a strong domestic-partnership law which would guarantee same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Fifteen years later, after winning the presidency, Trump appointed Peter Thiel, Paypal co-founder and openly gay man, to his transition team. Thiel has supported Trump throughout his campaign and may prove to be a key part in establishing a positive relationship with the LGBTQ community.

During a speech at the Republican National Convention Thiel said:

“When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares? Of course, every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American…fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.”

While some Americans feel they may have to face their fear of having marriage equality repealed, Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the nonprofit legal aid organization that aided Hillary Clinton during the campaign, isn’t putting a lot of stake in the possibility, CNN reports.

Tiven points out that even if the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice turns out to be against marriage equality, the five justices who already voted in support of marriage equality will remain, making the ability to have marriage equality repealed slim.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, Sarah Warbelow, said:

“People’s hearts and minds have changed. We’ve had rights rolled back but it is rare.”

We can’t say for certain what a Trump presidency will look like, but we do know that repealing Supreme Court rulings will face a major uphill battle. After excluding any social reform from his 100 Day Plan, it seems the president-elect may be focusing his attention on immigration and the economy instead.

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