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Jan 8, 2013 9:01 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Tucsonans turn to crisis hotline in times of tragedy

TUCSON- When people need to talk, Eliel Chavez is there to listen.

He works at Tucson's Crisis Response Center call center. It's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We get all sorts of calls," Chavez says. "From folks looking for a phone number, to calls from people who are suicidal and need help ASAP."

After the January 8 tragedy in Tucson, the phones rang off the hook. "We had a lot of calls. There was just a lot of uncertainty in the community," Chavez says.

The Crisis Response Center formed a special "Tragedy Support Line".

"What we did is we were able to set up a separate and distinct cue for those particular calls," says Ellise Hayden, the center's Interim Chief of Clinical Services. "Individuals have different responses to different events in their life."

As more mass shootings have taken place since January 8, 2011, such as last summer's movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado and most recently the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the "Tragedy Support Line" re-opens. "Sometimes callers are concerned about a coworker or a neighbor who has experienced a tragedy," Chavez says.

Whether it's giving the caller an idea on where to go for help, or reminding them of activities they can do for themselves, like taking a walk, or reading a book, for however long it's needed, they have someone to talk to.

To call the crisis hotline: (520) 622-6000

The "Tragedy Support Line" number is 1-800-203-CARE (2273) and can be called toll-free from anywhere.

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