A Republican congressman from Tennessee made a deeply personal gesture on Monday, sharing his mobile phone number on Twitter for anyone who needed to discuss their fears about the impact of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
"If [you're] feeling overwhelmed or scared and just want to talk to somebody give me a call," Rep. Tim Burchett said. "We will get through this together."
If you feeling overwhelmed or scared and just want to talk to somebody give me a call. This is my cell # 865-978-1822 . We will get through this together. pic.twitter.com/YbIlBoj2fn— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) March 30, 2020
Burchett's open line of communication on social media followed the news that several people had taken their own lives in areas in and around Tennessee's 2nd Congressional District, which he represents. Burchett, 55, shared his pain and shock at receiving the news in a video included in his Twitter post.
"I know everybody's under a lot of pressure with what's going on with the Coronavirus. If you're feeling all that pressure and it's getting to you...I know in the last little bit here we've had nine people in our community taking their life," Burchett said. "That's a horrible, horrible thing, somebody taking their own life. If you feel like you're going to hurt yourself or maybe hurt somebody around you, why don't ya'll just call me. Let's talk."
The freshman congressman's message followed a report on Monday that more Americans are concerned with the economic crisis being brought on by the pandemic than actual infection by the virus. According to data provided by PEW, 88 percent of Americans believe the virus poses a significant threat to the nation's economy. Just 39 percent responded that the novel disease presented a threat to their personal health. More than 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, smashing previous records made in the lowest points of recession.
Though more than 3,100 people have succumbed to the Wuhan Coronavirus inside the United States as of Monday evening, over 5,500 have recovered. Though global data is less verifiable, more than 165,000 people are thought to have recovered from the illness worldwide. Despite the congressional success of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act meant to inject cash into the economy, Americans remain worried that their jobs will not come back and their businesses will close.
German finance minister Thomas Schaefer was found dead near a railroad track on Saturday. A note implicated that he killed himself due to pressure stemming from the economic fallout brought on by the Wuhan virus. A New York man already diagnosed with throat cancer hanged himself on Thursday after learning he had contracted the virus. A Los Angeles suicide prevention hotline reported calls in March were 75 times higher than normal months.
"If I can't help you, I'll get you to somebody who can," Rep. Burchett continued in the video. "If you have a question, dealing with your disability or anything else you're dealing with, congressional stuff, just call our Knoxville office, and we'll try to keep this line free. Together we're going to get through this folks, just hang in there."
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. 1-800-273-8255