You might think the dark side of the holidays is an uptick in suicide rates. However, the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics reports the suicide rate is actually the lowest in December.

Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit human service agency Foundation 2 operates a 24/7 statewide Crisis Line and marketing coordinator Elisabeth Kissling says their call volumes actually decrease during the holiday season.

Kissling says, “Part of the reason is people are spending time with family or there is just more support. People are connecting with one another. Neighbors might be dropping off cookies, or you might get a card in the mail. Those might be the kinds of things that people don’t get in their everyday life so they might have more connection with people during this time.”

Kissling says they received 24,056 crisis line calls last year including 4,039 suicide-related calls.”In terms of the suicide-related calls into the crisis center that’s a 37 percent increase calls and we that as a really good thing people know we are there they know they can connect with help,Kissling says . We want those people to reach out and connect with us.”

Callers are immediately directed to resources once they connect to the crisis line. “Usually the first thing we hear is we’re really glad that you called to connect with us because we really appreciate the courage it takes to connect with help. And the next thing our counselor does is connect with that person and figure out what the situation is for that person that’s making things feel difficult,” Kissling says, “We do an assessment and talk about what’s going on today. We always do a suicide assessment screening just to see if that’s something we can help people with if they’re having thoughts of suicide.”

Crisis Line responders often direct callers to available local and statewide resources and offer a follow-up call service.” Kissling says no crisis is too big or small.

Kissling says, “We are never going to tell someone who calls ‘Oh this isn’t a crisis you need to call a different number’ if it makes life difficult for your, if it’s a struggle for you, then we would love it if people would connect with us at our crisis line.”

The 24-7 Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-332-42-24 or online at

(By Mark Freie, KLMJ, Hampton)