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Crisis calls increase on mobile line

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You’re 14 years old and just broke up with your boyfriend, which has left you devastated.

Your neighbor is a 50-year-old man having suicidal thoughts.

Both of you can get help through Transitional Living Services of Northern New York’s mobile crisis line, 782-2327. These, and many other scenarios, are examples of the kinds of calls the crisis line has received since 2002.

Within the past year, the agency’s line has received more extreme crisis cases, including people who have had homicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior. Jon M. Quel, mobile crisis counselor, said his job is to listen to the crisis, de-escalate the situation and assess whether the caller needs to be referred to other resources.

“A lot of people don’t understand the mental health system,” he said. “We do a lot of guidance.”

In 2011, more than 1,004 contacts were made to the line by 707 people. Most of those people resided in the city and town of Watertown. One-tenth of those calls were referred to the Samaritan Medical Center’s emergency department, and one-tenth of those calls also had suicidal ideation. Sixty-seven people had psychotic symptoms.

The mobile crisis line also has served Fort Drum soldiers. Mr. Quel said the line is free and confidential and a soldier does not have to identify himself or herself as such. In 2011, 20 active-duty soldiers called the line, with two having been deployed in the previous six months. Civilians calling about Fort Drum-related people and soldiers’ family members have also used the line.

“When they come back from deployment, there’s usually an increase in calls,” Mr. Quel said. “Overall, there’s been an increase in Fort Drum-related calls.”

Thomas J. Spaulding, the agency’s director of marketing and program development, said people should call at any moment in crisis and no crisis will be taken lightly.

Rodger A. Hicks, director of operations, said the agency has been promoting the mobile crisis line to make sure as many people in crisis in Jefferson County and on Fort Drum as possible are offered help at the most crucial time.

“There’s no need to hesitate,” Mr. Hicks said.

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