The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced Tuesday that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is partnering with First Choice Services, a local non-profit organization based in Charleston, to answer calls from West Virginians in times of need.
In a press release, the DHHR stated:
Calls to 1-800-273-TALK will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All call line staff have received training in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills, the gold standard in screening and assisting suicidal callers. Callers to the Lifeline are provided crisis counseling, treatment referrals, and follow-up services. When necessary, emergency procedures are used to dispatch first responders. All services offered by the Suicide Prevention Lifeline are free and confidential.
Nikki Tennis, an office director at the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, said the in-state partnership would help refer individuals to resources in the state.
"They know more about the different resources that we have in the state. It's also affiliated with Help4WV," Tennis said. "First Choice also has that hotline for the state, which includes help for substance abuse and mental health needs That they are connected in that way really helps with cross-referrals."
According to the DHHR, 340 West Virginians died by suicide in 2015, making it the 14th leading cause of death in the state. Last year, 40 percent of West Virginia callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were veterans.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.