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Philanthropy Friday: Suicide Prevention Services

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Suicide is a serious public health problem in the United States. It is estimated that 2,220 people a day will attempt suicide, and 88 people will die by suicide, while countless others will have suicidal thoughts.

Every day and night of the year, caring volunteers answer the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Since their hotline is confidential, volunteers don’t always know the outcome of their work with a caller. So it was very gratifying when a man approached the staff at a recent community event to thank the program for saving his life. Thanks to the hotline worker, he was linked with the help he needed.

In 1967, when the Suicide Prevention Hotline became operative, trained staff manned it by day and volunteers nursing students from Grant Hospital by night. Today, Suicide Prevention Services (SPS) is a program of North Central Mental Health Services, a comprehensive community mental health center in Columbus. Their mission is to reduce the incidence of suicidal behavior in the Franklin County community. They serve Central Ohio callers who are thinking about attempting suicide, persons who are worried that a friend or family member is thinking about suicide, persons who have lost someone they care about to suicide, veterans, area schools (students and teachers), and area colleges and universities (students and faculty).

Services Offered

Suicide Prevention Services operates the 24-Hour Hotline, a Teen Hotline and a Senior Hotline. Trained volunteers assist callers through empathetic listening, assessing suicide risk, identifying problems, and connecting callers with appropriate resources and referrals.

Hotline numbers:

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline 614-221-5445
  • Teen Hotline 614-294-3300
  • Senior Hotline 614-294-3309
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network member-center 800-273-8255

SPS also reaches out to persons who have made a suicide attempt to tell them about available resources to which they can turn; offers a monthly support group to help individuals cope with their lost of a loved one to suicide; educates schools, civic organizations and other agencies about the warning signs of suicide and the steps to take when such signs are observed; and maintains a website that educate site visitors about suicide prevention and available resources.

Becoming a Suicide Prevention Services Volunteer

Currently 112 people are volunteering for the opportunity to save lives. SPS is always looking to add volunteers to staff their 24-hour Suicide Prevention Hotline. Individuals need to be empathetic and respectful, and must “connect well” with other people. After an application process and training program, volunteers commit to working six hours a week for a six-month period. To receive more information, request application, or inquire about dates for the next training session, call Susan Jennings, Volunteer Coordinator (614) 299-6600 EX 2004.

Donations Welcomed

Most funding comes from the North Central Mental Health Services and the Franklin County ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health) Board, as well as grants for money that enable SPS to expand and improve their services. Although individual donations or donations in memory of a loved one are always welcomed. To make a tax-deductible donation, make checks payable to Suicide Prevention Services, North Central Mental Health Services, 1301 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio or you can make a donation on-line.

For more information about Suicide Prevention Services visit ncmhs.org and suicidepreventionservices.org.

Philanthropy Friday is a feature article by Michele Savoldi that will highlight a Columbus area non-profit organization every other week. For more nonprofit information follow Michele on Twitter at @cbusimpressions and @inkindconnect.

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