Based on the latest numbers from the CDC, on average, one person dies every nine hours from suicide in Indiana.
For those struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1(800)273-8255 – to call, but now, national legislation is headed up the chain of command with the intent to possibly change the lifeline.
The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act is looking to replace that number with a three-digit dialing code. The bill has passed unanimously through the House and the Senate, and some health professionals here in the Wabash Valley agree with the changes.
“One three-digit number such a 911 or 311 or whatever it may be will be easier for individuals to remember,” Meghan Creech, Director of Adult Services at the Hamilton Center, said.
Creech says the new number would be helpful not only to those calling for themselves, but for those helping others.
“If I’m going to help out another individual, maybe it’s not even me whose in that situation, knowing that number, having it offhand rather than having to look up that 1-800 number will be successful I believe,” Creech said.
Christina Crist, Executive Director at Team of Mercy, believes the change could be negative due to the widespread use of the current number.
“I know that I’ve worked very hard with plastering that number all over,” Crist said. “I have it in resources when people, it’s all over websites, you know, people get shirts made with that on the back of it.”
She says she understands the idea behind the bill, but thinks there are alternative solutions regarding the Suicide Hotline.
“Maybe adding something to it, but taking away something that we’ve had for years, I don’t see the benefit in that,” Crist said.
Both Creech and Crist agree that this issue goes beyond a hotline into the need for more awareness surrounding suicide.
“We need to educate as a community, as family, as businesses, as a health care system, rather than just looking at that one individual crisis moment,” Creech said.
Crist says the focus here in the Wabash Valley should be on building up those educational organizations and programs.
“We have oodles of things in our community that are fighting against suicide, let’s pour into that kind of stuff, you know, instead of just making up new stuff and hoping that that works, to me that’s like putting a bandaid on something, it just, it doesn’t work,” Crist said.
Hamilton Center has embarked on a zero suicide initiative to analyze suicide education, awareness, and prevention from a holistic standpoint in the hopes of creating more of an open dialogue and a comprehensive system here in the Wabash Valley.