Broward’s 211 receiving more crisis calls since pandemic began

After the COVID-19 pandemic changed how people in distress seek help, Broward County’s 211 call center is now adjusting its focus to suicide prevention.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After the COVID-19 pandemic changed how people in distress seek help, Broward County’s 211 call center is shifting gears to help those having mental health crises.

911 operators are suggesting residents call 211 during mental health crises, where people can get access to a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline.

“We’ve seen a dramatic change in the calls we do receive,” 211 Broward President and CEO Sheila Smith said. “A call before the pandemic used to be about four minutes in length, average, today it’s more like nine-and-a-half or ten minutes long.”

To help with awareness, South Florida’s own Alexander Star created a song called “Just One Firefly,” which is now the anthem of 211 nationwide.

Star said he felt a collaboration was necessary because of his own mental health struggles.

“I’m just singing about the things that matter to me that I would want people to help me with,” he said.

Star is even prepared to do a duet TikTok challenge, where followers can sing along, bringing light to the database of resources out there for people in crisis.

“We want this song to be the conduit for that awareness,” he said.

More resources can be found on the 211 Broward website.


About the Authors:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.