Need to talk? Call 2-1-1

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - They are there 24 hours a day answering your phone call when there is no one else you can talk to.

2-1-1 operators answer on average 12,000 phone calls a month, but that's not the only shocking number. "We are finding people are calling saying, 'I thought I would never have to call,'" said Susan Buza.

Buza is the executive director of Palm Beach County's and the Treasure Coast's 2-1-1 call center. "We are really seeing an impact of the economy."

The sheer volume of calls can be overwhelming, but these operators are also dealing with more people who are desperate for help.

Since last year, there has been a six percent increase in the number of people asking for basic assistance like food and clothing.

Even more shocking is the 35 percent increase of people calling that are feeling suicidal. "It's sad to think these are people who are faced with these issues, but rewarding they have a place to call."

2-1-1 is confidential, and operators are trained to be good listeners. They'll talk with a caller as long as it takes.

As a result, the average call time is getting longer.

2-1-1 has more than 4,000 programs they can help callers contact to get help. But the operators will tell you their most important job may be just listening to people who have no one else to turn to.