LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – When the phone rings inside Centerstone's Crisis and Information Center, it may take several minutes for someone to answer.
"It is unacceptable that we can't answer that call immediately when that person is reaching out for help," Centerstone Kentucky's Chief Operating Officer Kelley Gannon said.
Gannon says her employees aren't always able to handle the number of calls coming in because there aren't enough people to answer them. She says her budget, from the state's Department of Behavioral Health, hasn't changed in 10 years.
"Our staffing has stayed flat even though call volumes year over year have gone up," she told WHAS11.
For example, she says calls into the crisis center more than doubled last weekend after the death of chef and tv host Anthony Bourdain from about 60 calls to more than 130.
There are two to three employees per 8-hour shift. The center is open 24/7. Gannon's wish list includes more money to pay two more employees per shift, or 6 new hires.
"It's not worrisome that the call volume went up. In fact, it's great. We want people to call. We want people to reach out. We want them to know that there's hope out there," Gannon said.
The director of Centerstone's crisis center is taking the funding concerns to Washington, DC this week. Members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are lobbying for more money and resources to get help quickly to those who need it.
"If you're going to encourage people to pick up the phone and call a hotline like ours, you want to make sure we can answer that call. So, that's why we say increased funding has to come along with the awareness," said Geneva Robinson.
"The best thing that we can do is answer the call with a live person and not with a voice recording that says, 'Please hold, we'll get to you at some point in the future,'" Gannon said.
If you are looking for help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.