According to the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans ages 15 to 34.
Idaho was one of only a few states in the nation without a suicide hotline, until 1 p.m. on Monday.
Those in the mental health community are relieved that local suicide prevention counselors are now just a phone call away.
“He needs to get some help.”
That was a mother’s plea from an Oct 2011 9-11 tape. It was recorded just moments before the woman’s son, Scott Parker, led police on a high speed chase, attempting “suicide-by-cop.”
“I’m sure it’s at least weekly, that we’re dealing with something with those kinds of issues,” said Idaho Falls Police Cpt. Mark McBride, speaking about calls related to suicide.
McBride said it’s disheartening how often calls about attempted suicide come through dispatch. In the very worst case, lives get caught in the cross-fire. At the very least, someone is hurting beyond belief.
“I think anytime there’s a resource out there people can turn to, somebody that can really help them, is a better resource,” he said.
On Monday, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline launches in Boise. It’s a centralized place folks in crisis can call, to find even more local resources, or just to talk.
“Suicide rates in all of the intermountain west are higher,” said Suicide Prevention Action Network of Eastern Idaho chairwoman Roma Hawkins. “We’ve been lobbying for years actually for Idaho to fund its own portion of the national suicide prevention hotline.”
Last year, the funding was granted. Hawkins said there’s nothing quite so important as a local counselor on the other end of a telephone line.
“That is the lifeline,” said Hawkins.
The hotline can be reached toll-free by calling 1-800-273-talk (8255).
The hotline will be answered by local volunteers Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. To 5 p.m. After those hours, calls will be diverted to a national center.
Organizers hope to expand those hours to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the second year of operation.