BOISE -- Initial funding goals have been met, a location is figured out, and initial community partners are in place for Idaho's suicide prevention hotline. With those important steps complete, organizers hope the hotline will be up and running by the end of the year.
"We've been working on this project for two to three years, and we finally got all the pieces to come together," Kathie Garrett, Chair of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, said.
Idaho is currently the only state without a nationally certified suicide prevention hotline. Garrett says the state has been without a hotline since the end of 2006.
Mental health experts say Idaho needs this hotline. The average suicide rate in Idaho is higher than the national average. Research by Idaho State University indicates a hotline in Idaho would get nearly 5,000 calls every year.
To start the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline and keep it going for two years, organizers needed $240,000.
"We have met our goal, and we're ready to hopefully in July start hiring an executive director," Garrett said.
The hotline has funding from the state and private partnerships. United Way Treasure Valley is one of the big supporters of the hotline in the effort to help cut down on suicide, what they've seen is a big problem.
"[The problem] is huge, and so many groups have realized it over the years. But now getting all of those groups that have realized it at different points together, behind some real data that we can look at and view as a goal to move forward and make some real progress," Jake Alger, United Way Treasure Valley Communications Manager, said.
The Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention has a timeline planned out to get everything in place for a 24/7 hotline. Right now, they're looking for mental health resources to help people who will call.
"We have to find counselors and therapists and people throughout the state of Idaho who are willing to step up and from time to time help somebody who's having trouble and is thinking of taking their own life," Garrett said.
E-mails went out to some providers on Wednesday, and already on Thursday afternoon, more than 800 people had responded.
The next goal is to get a few dozen volunteers trained by fall of this year to open up during normal business hours. Eventually the hotline will be transitioning to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"National statistics show that 10-12% of the people that call a hotline will voluntarily say that call saved their lives. So we're looking at saving some lives," Garrett said.
The hotline will be housed at Gowen Field, as the Idaho National Guard has been a big proponent of this hotline. As for funding in the future, the council will have to keep fundraising. They estimate the hotline will cost between $180,000-$200,000 each year.
Once the Idaho hotline is certified, it will become a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. For those in need of help now, their number will work and send your call to Oregon. The number is 1-800-273-TALK. That number will stay the same even after Idaho gets on board.