NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Crisis hotlines throughout the country have seen an increase in calls because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D-RI, said calls to suicide hotlines are up over 800% and the overdose rate is up substantially.

Tennessee has been following Safer at Home guidelines since last month. The guidelines ask all people to stay at their home unless you're providing an essential service or you're doing an essential service, like going to a grocery store, get food for family or a trip to the doctor's office.

"Too many Americans die needlessly due to our lack of prevention and support," Kennedy said during Nashville Mayor John Cooper's daily press conference to address the city's response. "COVID-19 exacerbates mental health issues in our nation."

In addition to mental health, there has been an increase in calls regarding domestic violence.

"The YWCA is seeing an increase of 30% in calls," said Diane Lance, Metro Office of Family Safety, during the press conference. "Abusers thrive off keeping their victims isolated. There is help through texting and phone calls."

Kennedy said the lack of preparation as a nation is what caused us to pay the price. The nation was ill-prepared to respond.

"This was a wake-up call for our healthcare system and our mental health system," said Kennedy.

Lance emphasized the stress with the current coronavirus situation can be a trigger for domestic violence.

"There are many triggers right now for past traumas and mental issues and compounded stress, powerlessness, unemployment - all triggers," said Lance.

"We work to help victims of sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking and domestic abuse. Accessing care has never been easier than it is right now."

Lance said with PsychHub online, counselors and advocates have the capability to help you at your home while at their home. She said all three local resource help shelters are open - Agape, Mary Parrish Center and the YWCA. People needing help can call or text 615-983-5170 or visit the Office of Family Safety at 610 Murfreesboro Pike.

"Advocates can help determine your level of need, provide assistance or direct you on how to leave and where to go, if necessary," said Lance.

Also announced during Tuesday's press conference was three additional deaths in Davidson County, raising the total to 16 who have died because of coronavirus. The three deaths reported from Monday were all males ages 41, 75 and 82. All had underlying health conditions that contributed to the deaths.

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