Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline to launch Monday
The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline -- 1-800-273-TALK -- will launch to a statewide audience on Monday, November 2. Officials say the hotline will serve all callers free of charge, including veterans and active-duty and reserve men, women and families.
A press conference is scheduled for Monday on the steps of the Idaho Capitol to announce the launch. Speakers will include State Senator-Elect Marv Hagedorn, a key supporter of funding for the Hotline while serving as a Representative in the Idaho Legislature; David Brasuell, Administrator of the Idaho Division of Veteran’s Services, a major funder of the Hotline; Landis Rossi, United Way Executive Committee Member and Catholic Charities of Idaho Executive Director; Peter Wollheim, Member of both the SPAN Idaho Board and the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention; and Linda Peterson, mother of Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, and founder of the Speedy Foundation, established in Jeret’s honor.
Previously, calls from Idahoans to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were outsourced to hotlines in other states. With the launch of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, calls from all regions in Idaho will be taken by trained volunteer phone workers who are more familiar with services offered statewide.
Volunteers staffing the hotline have promised at least one year to the organization, and have completed ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), an intense, two-day, internationally recognized suicide prevention training.
“Idaho lags behind other states in our crisis and suicide prevention services, and the hotline will help to close that gap,” said John Reusser, Executive Director of Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. “We’re ready to serve all of Idaho. Those who might be considering suicide, or those who just need someone to talk to -- we’re here to take their calls.” The hotline will also offer suicide prevention information on their website.
Idaho’s previous suicide prevention hotline closed in 2006, due to a lack of funding. Since then, Idaho has been the only state in the country without a statewide suicide hotline. The Idaho Division of Veteran’s Services, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, United Way, the Speedy Foundation and Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation are among the many funders and partners that stepped up to get ISPH going. “We’re overwhelmed by the support the community has given the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. It’s what made this program a reality,” said Reusser.
Idaho has one of the country’s highest suicide rates. Those at a higher risk include military veterans, soldiers and their families, persons dealing with job loss or financial strain, teenage boys, farmers, Native Americans and Idaho’s elder males. Suicide prevention hotlines are a proven means to help prevent these tragic deaths, experts say.
Last month, 400 calls were made by Idaho residents to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The hotline will initially operate Monday thru Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm, with Fridays being added in February 2013 as more volunteers are trained. Calls to 1-800-273-Talk will be answered by other National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network member hotlines in other states outside of those hours. ISPH plans to expand its hours to 24/7 in Year 2. Volunteers and donors are needed to keep the hotline moving forward, and serving those in need.