FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – September 5-11 is National Suicide Prevention Week. In light of that, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors has approved funding to start a new follow-up program with their suicide hotline.
David Lopez is the program manager for the Central Valley Suicide Prevention Hotline, and he says the gap that often exists between someone calling the hotline and receiving additional services can be detrimental.
Studies show when people who attempt suicide or experience a mental health crisis are connected to resources in the days following the incident, they are less likely to re-attempt suicide.ADVERTISING
“It’s really important that we get people help during that time because the risk of suicide is really elevated within that first initial 30 days,” Lopez said.
That’s why the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health is rolling out the follow-up call program. Sometime in the 72 hours following someone’s call to the hotline, an employee will reach out to them to make sure they’re ok, and connect them with more resources.
“…Making sure that they’re still stable, re-assessing for risk of suicide, and helping them with counseling,” Lopez said.
According to the Department of Behavioral Health, 102 people in Fresno County died by suicide in 2020; which is down from 111 in 2019 and 114 in 2018.
Dawan Utec, the director of the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health, says the follow-up call program will also be used as a research tool to track trends in the community. Recently, she says they’ve noticed an increase in firearm suicides.
“We know that when people don’t have access to a means for suicide, they’re much less likely to complete a suicide. If people who do own guns keep them secure and locked up, it’s much less likely that they’ll be used in an accident or suicide,” she said.
Since the funding was just approved, Utec estimates the program will begin within the next couple of months.
The suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.