Busiest time for mental health hotline may surprise you

Multnomah County reportedly sees highest suicide rates in warmer months

Seen left to right, Jenny Coleck; Kirstie Gerhart and Joey Link, all of Portland float along Trillium Lake near Government Camp, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It was a long, rough winter in the Pacific Northwest, especially for those who struggle with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.

While there’s no doubt the gloomy weather can affect people’s moods, mental health experts tell KOIN 6 News the warmer weather won’t bring relief for everyone.

“Actually spring, late spring, early summer is one of our busiest times,” Leticia Sainz, program manager with Multnomah County’s Mental Health Crisis Line, said.

The free 24/7 health support call center takes about 75,000 calls a year.

Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Line:

503.988.4888 or 800.716.9769

Hearing-impaired dial: 711

Contrary to what some may think, Sainz says the county sees its highest rates of suicide in warmer months.

“More people are getting out and about and saying ‘It’s lovely and it’s summer and the weather is great,’ and you are still feeling isolated and not great,” she said.

The crisis hotline receives calls from people who are in crisis themselves or those who may be worried about their loved ones.

“If they are calling in crisis it’s because they are feeling unsafe and they need someone to connect with right in that moment,” Sainz explained.

People who call the crisis hotline are connected with a specialist who can provide counseling over the phone, or get them in touch with the best resources available.

Either way, Sainz says she has advice for people as the weather starts to get better.

“Don’t be afraid to ask people who you care about, how they are doing,” she suggested. “If they tell you they are feeling depressed, don’t be afraid to ask if they are having thoughts of suicide and give us a call. We can take it from there.”

For more information about the county’s mental health crisis line, click here.