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UnitedHealth, Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation Join Forces to Address Increase in Hotline Calls

Some Ohio counties have seen as much as a 36 percent increase in calls this year. [Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation]

The stress of the coronavirus pandemic is being blamed for an increase in the number of calls to crisis hotlines. According to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF), some counties have seen as much as a 36 percent increase in calls this year – on top of a 67 percent increase since 2016.

UnitedHealth is stepping up its support OSPF’s efforts, supplying additional care managers and increasing educational support to health providers throughout the state, said Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth Dr. Srinivas Merugu.

“I think it’s really important to continue to raise awareness in the community," Merugu said. "One, that it’s an urgent health need, and two, to destigmatize it as well..."

OSPF is receiving more crisis calls from males 25 to 29 years old, veterans and those who are LGBTQ than it has it the past.

"And destigmatizing [mental illness], normalizing the discussion, providing the resources… I think it comes to a change in social awareness, social acceptance and destigmatizing,” Merugu said.

According to OSPF, typical warning signs include substance abuse, disengagement or changes in eating habits. If you’re in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotlineat 1-800-273-8255. You can also text a crisis prevention counselor at 741741.

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