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Crisis calls triple after election results announced

By Hannah McDonald
Nov. 13, 2016

As a volunteer for an online crisis counseling agency, Utah State University sophomore Catie Giraldes usually takes about eight calls in a two-hour shift.

On Wednesday around 2 a.m., Giraldes was called in to respond to around 25 people in crisis. The agency for which she volunteers temporarily shut down its services that morning until it could respond to a record number of callers, some of whom had been waiting three or four hours for counseling.

Giraldes’ experience reflected a nationwide rise in crisis calls following the presidential election. Utah, much like many other states, was not immune to the fear and discontent some people were feeling in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who rose to power on promises of mass deportations and bans on Muslims, and his running mate Mike Pence, who has linked gay unions to the “deterioration of marriage and family” and has supported funding organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

“People were scared,” Giraldes said. “It was generally about the election. There was this change, this anxiety, this fear. People were scared they were going to be forced to have conversion therapy or scared their families were going to get deported. We just had to do our best to comfort them. To remind them that there’s checks and balances in place and that things like that wouldn’t happen today.”

Giraldes has volunteered for a year and a half now, and she said Wednesday was the first time she had ever responded to so many people in one night.

“I feel like any election can cause some anxiety,” she said. “Fear of change is strong. Everyone kind of gets that thought that, ‘Oh, no. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ But people were more scared than normal, I felt.”

Despite the rise in crisis calls in Utah and the rest of the United States, Logan police said they have not responded to any calls relating to election results.

“We have not received any calls for service in Logan specifically pertaining to fallout from the election,” Logan police Lt. Brad Franke said. “I don’t recall ever having problems related to elections. This community is so fair and kind to people that we rarely have problems.”

Logan residents who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or need crisis counseling can contact the Cache County branch of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition at (435) 752-0750 or (435) 757-3240.