PRS CrisisLink Sees Uptick In Families Under Stress (Part two)

Who should contact PRS CrisisLink for help: 

  • Anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal
  • Anyone concerned about a loved one who may be experiencing these feelings
  • Anyone who needs emotional support
  • Anyone who needs information about other community services

The PRS CrisisLink chatline offers crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and support to individuals by providing problem-solving skills and information on available resources.

Over the past few years, calls and chats have skyrocketed. Says Program Director Laura Meyer, the number of calls reporting violence against children in families has been particularly disturbing.

“This was something we rarely dealt with before the COVID-19 pandemic. And it became really intense. We are mandated reporters, but we’ve never had so many situations to report, at this level. We witnessed the increased amount of stress happening within families and how that was impacting them financially, emotionally, just overall situations with parents just not being able to cope. The stress was falling onto the kids, and the kids don’t have resources to cope with it,” says Mayer.

She continues, if resources were not sought out or available, children and adolescents were starting to rely on unhealthy or dysfunctional coping mechanisms instead. 

“We’ve seen quite an uptick in maladaptive coping, whether that be self-injury with substance use or dangerous relationships online to find connections,” say Mayer. 

There has also been a sharp increase in thoughts of suicide.

“The acuity of these thoughts is more intense than in the past. These are not just fleeting or passing concerns, but they are more like: I’m thinking about doing it, and here’s how I would do that, which is just different.”

The PRS Crisis Link also has seen an uptick in calls and texts from younger ages. Whereas there might be contact from an eight or nine year old once a month, now it’s more like a handful a week from kids under that age of 12. “These are very young ages to be calling a hotline and talking to an adult and saying things are not okay.”

 “So even though it’s not some astronomical number, five kids a week is too many. Five kids talking about suicide at age 10 is too many kids. This is a very strong indicator of what is happening. The depth of their despair really concerns me,” says Mayer.

A major piece of this is family stress. When people are not getting the resources they need, their children are experiencing the stress even more intensely. Interpersonal violence adds an additional component to an already unhealthy mix. One strong indicator for suicide risk for a child is witnessing domestic violence. And family violence has increased over the past few years. 

Thoughts of suicide can be compounded by trauma, notes Mayer, and the trauma is what PRS seeks to address, connecting people with the appropriate resources for help and healing. 

If you are concerned about your family, or know of another family in crisis, the PRS Crisis Link is available to connect you with existing resources to provide help. Contact them 24/7 in any of the following ways: by calling 800-273-TALK [8255], Texting “CONNECT” to 855-11, or via the Lifeline Chat: