By Eileen Davis, Call2Talk Director
Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to remember those affected by suicide and raise awareness of this important issue and the impact it has on lives across our communities. It is also a day to promote programs for treatment and/or emotional support for anyone who is struggling.
Thoughts of suicide, like many mental health conditions, can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender, socioeconomic status, or background. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair.” When mental health conditions are not addressed, suicide risk increases.
In 2017, 682 people died by suicide in Massachusetts (AFSP). That’s more than five times the number of people who died in alcohol-related car accidents. Thousands more people were treated for self-inflicted injuries in hospitals and emergency rooms across the state.
While the facts are grim, there is always hope. Call2Talk, part of the statewide 211 platform, is our mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program. It operates 24/7 and is free, safe, and confidential. Call2Talk launched in December 2013 with a phone and a small group of volunteers. In 2018, we received 51,812 calls and the volume continues to grow. Our dedicated, highly-trained volunteers gave back over 15,000 hours to answer calls from stressed teens, anxious adults, and lonely older adults that same year.
Communities with helplines and suicide prevention programs have a reduced burden on first responder services such as the 911 system and emergency rooms. Helplines like Call2Talk train volunteers to answer calls, resulting in the de-escalation of a caller’s emotional status before reaching a true emergency. All call takers are trained to recognize suicidal intent and can notify emergency systems as the situation requires. At Call2Talk we promote emotional wellbeing for everyone across Massachusetts.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time, Call2Talk is always available:
• Call direct to (508) 532-2255
• Call via Mass211 by dialing 2-1-1 from any cell phone or land line in Massachusetts
• Call through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255
• Text through Crisis Text Line by texting C2T to 741741
If you’d like to get involved further, please consider joining our team of volunteers or making a donation to support suicide prevention in our communities today.