The And Just Like That… and Grey's Anatomy star shared their experience in a new interview.
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Sara Ramirez Red Carpet photo
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Sara Ramírez is opening up about calling a suicide hotline during the COVID-19 pandemic. The And Just Like That… and Grey's Anatomy star shared their experience in a new Variety profile. (Related: Free Mental Health Services That Offer Affordable and Accessible Support)

Ramírez had suicidal thoughts one night in May 2020, they shared in the recent interview. The pandemic and "the violence in our country, and grappling with the anti-Blackness that permeates our society so deeply," triggered their "own personal trauma" from childhood, they explained. "It just painted a picture of the world that I wasn't sure I wanted to be a part of," they said.

Ramírez felt "particularly vulnerable at that time," which led them to seek out help, they said. "I remember calling the national suicide hotline for the very first time," continued Ramírez. "I called some folks, but their phones were off, and I thought, 'Well, there's this hotline.'"

The hotline helped, according to Ramírez. "This person really talked me off a ledge and got me back into my body," they said. "I could acknowledge my feelings without becoming them, and it was really helpful." (Related: How Working at a Suicide Prevention Hotline Changed My Perspective On Mental Health)

ICYDK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an organization that provides free and confidential support to people who are having a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it utilizes more than 200 local crisis centers.

"Suicide hotlines function by having a caring, supportive, and experienced person immediately available for someone to listen and talk to when a person is in crisis," explains John Mayer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life. (Related: What Is QPR Training for Suicide Prevention?)

It's important to have someone available at all times to provide this service, says Thea Gallagher, Psy.D., clinical psychologist, assistant professor at New York University, and co-host of the Mind In View podcast. "We know that talking to people when you're feeling suicidal can make you feel less alone," she adds. "When people are in that state, it's not a cognitive state that they're normally in. You feel very scared, desperate, and alone."

Experts applaud Ramírez for sharing their experience. "When a notable person speaks out about their experience with a suicide hotline, it gives a great degree of legitimacy to using them and their effectiveness," says Mayer.

"This sets such a good example," agrees Gallagher. "They said, 'I was in a really low place where I didn't feel safe, and I chose to utilize a public resource that's there for all of us.' It's saying, 'I'm not above this, and no one is.' It breaks the stigma about using this important resource." (Related: The Stigma Around Psychiatric Medication Is Forcing People to Suffer In Silence)

Gallagher urges people to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or a local suicide prevention hotline if they need help. "Sometimes people think they need to have their feet on a bridge to call," she says. "It doesn't need to be that way. If you feel desperate or start to feel alone and scared, it's okay to call."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or text 741741, or chat online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.