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Need To Vent? There's A Hotline For You To Scream It Out

An illustration of a woman screaming.

Do you ever hear the news and just want to scream?

Maybe you're raging 10 months into the pandemic or you're just having a regular old rough day?

There's a number you can dial to just yell into the void.

The hotline was set up by Chris Gollmar, an elementary school teacher and an artist in New York City, in the fall, before the election. He could see people might need a place to vent.

So he set up a voicemail and Website called Just Scream that encourages people to "Wait for the beep. Scream. Hang up. That's all there is to it."

"I figured maybe I would only get friends and family calling in. But I think we're over 120,000 screams now," he tells NPR.

As for what people should scream, Gollmar leaves that up to you.

He listens to all of the calls before publishing them.

"The most common thing is they'll just call in and make a 2-second, 3-second-long scream," he says. Think classic horror movie wail.

He also gets recordings of people encouraging their babies to scream, callers bellowing the opening line of "The Circle Of Life" from The Lion King and those leaving non-screaming messages of hope.

"I know that the state of America right now is very tense, and we'll make it through," says one recording.

"I don't really have a scream in me. We're still reeling from last year," says another. "But there's gotta be something beyond this, right? And I gotta believe it's gonna get better. So let's just hang in there, OK? You're valid, you're great, you're utterly fantastic and I love you so much."

But if you have feelings to get out, hurry up. The phone line closes Thursday night, though when he spoke to NPR, Gollmar hadn't decided on an exact time. He plans to leave the archive online.

He has come to see the project as a time capsule from the election to the inauguration.

"I mean, as a teacher in the pandemic, I see what it's like to be a parent, what it's like to be a child right now, and it's not a surprise, looking back, that 120,000 people have called and recorded screams," he says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.