Hotline status shouldn't affect REPS

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The limbo status of a national intervention hotline shouldn't have much impact on a local organization designed to prevent suicide, the group director said Monday.

The hotline 1-800-SUICIDE, an operation managed by the Kristin Brooke Hope Center in Washington D.C., is in danger of losing its funding and could soon be shut down, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment also advised that the national hotline will soon be shut down.

News of the hotline's potential shutdown has reverberated across the mental health community as of late. The hope center has spearheaded a fundraising drive to save the hotline, which was recently awarded a two-week extension from SAMHSA.

Sara Ross, suicide prevention coordinator for the Yampa Valley coalition Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, said the organization has decided the best course is to advise local residents against using the toll free number.

"At this point, I'm telling our people to use our local resources," Ross said. "We're hoping that's what people will do."

Ross said REPS usually advises that people use the local numbers -- 824-6541 (Craig) or 879-1090 (Steamboat Springs) -- which will connect callers with an advocate on standby 24 hours a day for assistance, instead of the national hotline.

Officials from the hope center said the national hotline is the nation's most well-known suicide intervention line and takes in more than 1,000 calls per day, many of them in times of crisis. A funding disagreement between the hope center and the federal government is behind the line's possible closure, officials said.

The hope center has to raise $10,000 within the two weeks to keep the hotline from going dark.

1-800-SUICIDE was de-

signed to combat alarming national suicide statistics. One such statistic, specifically cited by the hope center, is that suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons 18 to 24 years old.

REPS has contended that at least one person dies at their own hands per month in the Yampa Valley.

For more information re-

garding suicide, prevention or educational efforts, call REPS at 879-2141. To donate to the hope center's campaign push for the $10,000, visit www.save1800suicide.org.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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