Toronto men are feeling the pressure of the recession.

Since October, male callers to the Distress Centres of Toronto distress lines have increased exponentially, says executive director Karen Letofsky.

“We’re hearing from two distinct groups: People that have newly lost their jobs; and we’re seeing a 30 per cent increase in people worrying about basic needs,” she said.

In addition, highly distressed or crisis calls — including suicide calls — have doubled, she said.

Since the last quarter of 2008, the number of new callers who are men has increased to between 50 and 60 per cent while normally the callers are 35 to 40 per cent male and 60 to 65 per cent female.

“And the feelings are so overwhelming that it’s become almost an emotional barrier to people being able to do effective problem solving and really realistically evaluate their circumstances,” Letofsky said.

Generally, male callers are expressing feelings of shame, tremendous amounts of anxiety and a fear of the future, she said.

While there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in the number of women calling the distress lines, there’s been an overall increase since the recession began.

The centre receives about 120,000 distress calls per year but already this year there’s been a 10 to 15 per cent increase.

“And this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Letofsky said. They expect to receive as many as 140,000 callers in 2009.

The centre’s distress lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week and can be reached at 416-408-HELP.

For more information on the centre’s services, visit

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