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On the front lines of suicide prevention

Paul Mina, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Tri-County, said he immediately recognized the value of Call2Talk when he was approached with the idea three years ago.
So when he was honored for his leadership in supporting the confidential suicide prevention and emotional crisis line, Mina was determined to recognize the staff and volunteers whom he credits with its success.
“I’m just the person out front,” he said. “Anybody can make a decision to do something good when they have good options placed in front of them. Our front line people are the heroes of the job, not me.”
A service of Framingham-based United Way of Tri-Country, Call2Talk offers compassionate, nonjudgmental support to callers who express hopelessness, isolation, and suicidal ideation.
Mina was presented last month with the 2017 Department of Public Health Leadership in Suicide Prevention Award from state Senator Karen Spilka. He was also honored by The MetroWest Coalition for Suicide Prevention and The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention.
Mina has worked for 22 years at United Way of Tri-County, a nonprofit organization that supports residents from 34 communities in Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester counties with a range of programs.
In accepting the award, Mina praised the work of Eileen Davis, who approached him with the concept of Call2Talk and is now its director.
Mina worked with the United Way’s board to merge Call2Talk under the umbrella of Mass 2-1-1, which connects callers with essential community services. Support is also provided to the LOSS Team delivering services at the scene of a suicide and Call2Talk’s subprogram, TeleCheck, a telephone check-in service offering friendly conversation for older adults living at home.
According to Mina, Call2Talk is on track to answer 42,500 calls this year by more than 180 volunteers who reflect the diverse caller base.
“It’s very serious work with extensive training,” Mina said, “but it’s very rewarding when you’re able to turn someone around from believing the only option is the final option.”