Idaho's suicide prevention hotline expands hours, now offering help 24 hours a day



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TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Idaho's suicide prevention hotline is offering help around the clock for the first time to those who are in danger of ending their lives.

The Times-News (http://bit.ly/1B5XHQ1 ) reported Monday the Boise phone center is now taking calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hotline launched in 2012, but it wasn't open on weekends or late into the evening. Instead, after-hours calls were fielded to other crisis lines, often in Portland, Oregon

Executive Director John Reusser said a boost in donations has allowed the hotline to expand.

When Idaho's hotline first opened in 2012, it wasn't unusual for the hotline to go days without a single phone call, Reusser said. Idaho had been without a suicide prevention hotline for six years and resources to raise awareness about the hotline were few.

But after two years, the hotline receives 10 to 20 calls per day.

The phone center's volunteers have also increased. When it first stated, 18 volunteers staffed the phone lines Monday through Thursday. Now, 60 volunteers are trained to answer calls. Reusser said he hopes to boost the volunteer staff to 80.

But the hotline doesn't have a long-term plan for funding and if there is a drop in funding, the hotline could be forced to reduce its hours of operations once more, he added.

According to the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, the Gem State's suicide rate was 44 percent higher than the national average in 2012. A year later, more than 300 people committed suicide in Idaho.

In south-central Idaho, Stewart said that the suicide hotline number is prominently displayed at the I.B. Perrine Bridge right along Twin Falls' city limit.

"Everyone goes through hard times and we don't want that person to feel alone," said Lori Stewart, former chairwoman of the suicide prevention network. "We want to be visible in the community."


Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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