Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline expands service

Posted at 1:14 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 15:14:35-05

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is expanding its service -- by adding an additional phone number for people to call in a time of crisis.

Organizers announced the additional services on Monday.

ISPH officials say the new local area code number -- 208-398-HELP (4357) – will supplement its existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network (NSPL) number, 1-800-273- TALK (8255). This local area code number provides voice call response 24/7 and crisis text response between the hours of 3 pm and midnight, Monday through Friday

The new number allows Idaho callers with out of state (non-208 area code) cell phones to dial ISPH directly, according to an ISPH news release. Currently, non-208 area code phone calls to ISPH through the National Lifeline Network are routed to the center in the Lifeline network associated with that area code. ISPH is working with the NSPL to ensure calls from Idaho’s new 986 area code will be routed to Idaho Responders as well.

“Our additional number and text service will make it easier for all Idahoans to find a compassionate person when in need. Remember: You don’t have to be suicidal to contact the hotline, anyone in crisis is welcome to reach out,” said Hotline Director John Reusser.

Idaho's suicide rate has long been above the national average. It peaked as the ninth-highest rate in the country in 2014 -- the most recent year for which figures were available -- when the rate was 46 percent higher than the national average.

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline reports fielding nearly 5,400 calls so far this year.

The suicide hotline's original number is still 1-800-273-TALK. The additional number is 208-398-HELP.

(Associated Press contributed to this story)