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Portland police chief says suicide calls are up during coronavirus outbreak

Calls to 911 for suicide attempts or suicide threats, with or without a weapon, are up 41% in a year and 23% from the 10 days prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Credit: KGW
Portland Police Chief Jami Resch speaks during a news conference about the city's response to the COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said calls to 911 for suicide attempts or suicide threats, with or without a weapon, are up 41% since this time in 2019 and 23% compared to the 10 days before the COVID-19 outbreak.

It's important that people check in on family and friends via phone, video chat, text or email, Resch said.

Resch also said there are free resources available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for those experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide.


  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    • Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Support in Spanish: 888-628-9454
    • Text: "HOME" to 741741
  • Mental Health Crisis intervention line
    • 503-988-4888
    • Toll-free: 800-716-9769
    • Hearing-impaired dial: 711
  • Lines for Life
    • Lifeline: 800-273-8255
    • Text: "273TALK" to 839863
  • Oregon Youthline
    • Teen-to-teen services from 4-10 p.m. daily
    • Youthline: 877-968-8491
    • Text: "TEEN2TEEN" to 839863
    • Email: YouthL@linesforlife.org
  • Trevor Project
    • Specific to LGBTQ youth
    • Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
    • Text: "TREVOR" to 202-304-1200 from noon-7 p.m.
  • County Mental Health Call Centers
    • Clackamas County: 503-655-8585
    • Multnomah County: 503-988-4888
    • Washington County: 503-291-9111
    • Clark County: 360-696-9560 OR 1-800-686-8137

RELATED: Mental health expert weighs in on challenges of social isolation

Resch shared some other key statistics:

  • Dispatched calls are 10% lower compared to the 10 days before the state of emergency declaration
  • Requests for emergency food boxes have increased more than six times for the same time period in 2019 and are up eight times from the 10 days prior to the emergency declaration. Resources: Sunshine Division has pick-up options, if someone is unable to pick-up, call non-emergency dispatch at 503-823-3333.
  • Domestic violence calls data is unavailable at this time due to different ways calls are coded. Resources: National Domestic Violence Hotline or Call to Safety

Resch made the comments during a press conference Tuesday with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other city leaders.

In other news, Resch said officers have been instructed to use an educate-first approach to violators of Gov. Brown's stay-home executive order. Resch said the educate-first approach is especially important with the homeless population, who may not be aware of the order. Resch said if violators don't comply with warnings, officers will issue criminal citations for noncompliance.

Resch also said people should not call 911 to report people or businesses who aren't complying with the stay-home order. Those calls should go to the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.

RELATED: Oregon's stay-at-home order: What is and what isn't allowed?

RELATED: Real-time coronavirus updates: Oregon and SW Washington

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