Suicide Prevention Hotline looks to extend services for young people

This December, ISPH is on track to have the busiest month yet-- with a 41 percent increase in call volume according to their recent survey.
Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 15:18:01-05

BOISE, ID — Thoughts of suicide can be difficult for a person to verbalize.

"It's important to bring the word, the the emotion, the feeling out in the open -- that we can talk about this," said Alex McNish, Volunteer Coordinator, Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (ISPH).

And now-- more than ever -- Idahoans are talking about this.

"Every month is like at-- or setting-- a record," said George Austin, Clinical Supervisor, ISPH.

When the hotline crunched their numbers this fall, they noticed a 41 percent increase in call volume from last year.

"I think there's, it's a combination of knowing that we're here, and knowing that we're a resource, and also that there's a lot of people that are feeling disconnected."

But who are these people? The answer might surprise you. Staff at the hotline say-- from the data they're able to collect-- 60 percent of folks reaching out are under 25.

"10-14 is our lowest age category, and we've had to add under 10 because we do get people who are reaching out to us suicidal and under 10," said Austin.

And how can we better connect them? These are the questions hotline staff are looking to address.

"We're targeting the younger demographic who are more frequently using their phones to text than to talk," said Austin.

At present the text and chatting service is only available Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to midnight. But this new year, they're hoping for the community's help.

"Our goal with this next training is to have enough responders that we can have it on from 8 in the morning until midnight, seven days a week, if possible."

So that fewer Idahoans will have to navigate these feelings alone.

"We are compassionate listeners; we're here to help-- and to provide hope!" said McNish.

If you are interested in becoming a certified ISPH responder, visit their website.

Additionally, if you or someone you know is suffering from thoughts of suicide, call or text ISPH at (208) 398-4357.