Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline implements three-digit number for those in crisis

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Idaho locals in crisis are now able to dial an easy three-digit phone number to be connected to the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, making the service more available to those in need. 

Gov. Brad Little announced during a press conference that the change is in response to a partnership between the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline and the 211 Idaho Care Line. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 34. 

In 2019, 211 Idaho CareLine operators “facilitated 93,261 information contacts and provided 115,591 individual resource referrals,” according to the organization. Little explained that this increase in contact is a continuation of the work being done to combat suicide in Idaho.

“The statistic about Idaho and suicide is something none of us are proud of,” Little said. “But we have to continue to do all of these incremental things to help with mental illness challenges all over the state of Idaho, whether they be in our grade-school kids or whether they be in senior citizens and everybody in between.”

Idaho Sen. Fred Martin has been instrumental in past legislation regarding suicide prevention. Martin says one Idahoan takes their own life every single day, amounting to around 360 suicides in Idaho each year. Because of this, Martin is determined to get the word out about this resource.

“It’s a silent thing that’s going on,” Martin said. “Every day an Idahoan loses their life to suicide, but nobody talks about it in the media, so it’s silent.”

For years, Martin has worked with the 211 Idaho CareLine in an effort to create a 3-digit number that will connect those in crisis to the suicide hotline. He explained that previously callers who reached out to the 211 CareLine would be given the 10-digit suicide hotline number by providers, who would then end the call. 

“That was not acceptable for me or those working there,” Martin said. “For years, I’ve wanted a three-digit number for the suicide hotline in Idaho. People in crisis can’t possibly remember a seven to 10-digit number, but everyone can remember a three-digit number.”

Jenna Allen, outreach and prevention case manager for Boise State, works closely with the CARE program and other campus resources to spread awareness of suicide prevention. She says she is hopeful that this new, more convenient number will be effective for students.

“We have a lot of resources available here on campus for students who are experiencing that, but sometimes, people prefer to have something away from school,” Allen said. “And so I think that having this so easily accessible to them, it’s an easier thing for them to remember so they don’t have to go digging for the card that I gave them previously. I think that it will hopefully be able to save some lives.”

Although there are resources on campus that aid in suicide prevention and crisis, Allen explained that students now have easy access to a resource available all day, every day. 

“We’re available during the week and during business hours, but a lot of times crises happen on the weekends or late at night when other things aren’t available,” Allen said. “And so being able to just remember three numbers is hopefully a good service to have.”

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