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On Fourth Anniversary, Idaho Suicide Hotline Adds 208 Area Code Number


Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Executive Director John Reusser. - LAURIE PEARMAN
  • Laurie Pearman
  • Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Executive Director John Reusser.
Not long ago, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline needed to redirect phone calls to out-of-state counselors following years without any regular state funding. When it relaunched in 2012, ISPH's 18 volunteers worked Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marking its fourth anniversary on Nov. 26, today it has 75 volunteers helping callers 24/7 and fielding 5,400 calls this year alone.

This week, ISPH launched a new local area code number—208-398-HELP (4357)—to supplement its existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The hotline is preparing to route calls from Idaho's new 986 area code, which will go into effect in fall 2017, to the Idaho hotline. Additionally, ISPH now operates a crisis text response between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight, Monday through Friday.

The 2016 Idaho Legislature committed to funding 60 percent of ongoing hotline operations. The remaining 40 percent comes from individual partners donors and funding partners. A year ago, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation gave a gift of $33,000 to the hotline.

"Idaho has among some of the highest suicide rates in the nation. We're 44 percent higher than the national average, and that includes a good many young people," ISPH Executive Director John Reusser told Boise Weekly in 2015. "There's a tremendous pressure on kids to succeed."


If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.