Suicide hotlines see calls spike

In late January, /*Ervin Lupoe*/ killed his entire family before committing suicide. Police say they were deep in debt and had just lost their jobs.

In Porter Ranch last October, police say /*Karthik Rajaram*/ killed his entire family before committing suicide. Police say it was the result of financial troubles.

Officials say stories like that of Lupoe and Rajaram are what may be leading to a major increase in calls to the /*L.A. County Department of Mental Health*/'s 24-hour hotline. L.A. County Department of Mental Health Director Sanjay Shah estimates a 30 percent increase in calls since the October tragedy in Porter Ranch.

"We are getting more and more calls that are economy-related calls. People are stressed out ... lost their houses," said Shah.

Over 28,000 are coming into the county's access center each month. Mental health experts say they are likely driven by the recession.

"Normally I see tremendous rise in depression, people needing hospitalization because of suicidal thinking and behavior between Thanksgiving and New Year ... and people developing more seasonal depression. This I have seen every year," said Dr. Joseph Haraszti, a psychiatrist. "This year, the problem continued throughout and it has continued nonstop up to this point."

Health experts caution that suicide rates tend to fluctuate with economic trends. If current economic situations continue to decline, experts say suicides could go up.

"Unfortunately the people that take their lives don't seek help, and I think that is a word that we need to get out," said Dr. Haraszti.

Shah says the call level within his department is higher now, than it's ever been.

"The help is available. You have to ask for it, you have to recognize it. We have to show the empathy that we are here for them, listen to them and provide services based on what they are in need of," said Shah.



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