United Way 211 serves critical needs during moments of desperation
Content Warning: This post contains references to suicide.
Crying, “I want to kill myself. I don’t want to do this anymore”. Yelling, “It’s too hard and isn’t going to get better”. Sobbing, “I’m just so tired”. Yelling, “I’ve tried everything!” Silence, “I’m sitting on a bridge,” click. “These are some examples of how my suicide [prevention] calls have started”, shares Bunny, a United way 211 Community Resource Navigator.
“When calls like this come in, I know I have to be the bridge and create enough space in that moment of time to stretch out the seconds until my caller knows that they matter, Bunny says. “That they understand there are people who will listen, that will help them, that care and hear their pain. I have to be a bridge from where they feel hopeless and alone, to the awaiting warmth of the professionals on the suicide prevention line.”
In the last year, United Way of Greater Kansas City 211 service has received over 30 calls specific to suicide prevention and nearly 200 involving a mental health crisis. 211 provides free, confidential access to services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for individuals and families in and around the KC metro facing crisis and is the only nationally accredited referral resource available locally. Although not a suicide prevention hotline, every person answering the phone at 211 is trained to handle any call to find the right resource and get the help that is needed, knowing that just one conversation could impact someone’s life.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and across the country organizations and individuals are bringing attention to this issue, which has become even more serious due to the fear, isolation, and despair brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Suicide prevention is possible. Along side our partners, we are here to be the bridge a to walk with those in crisis through the dark to brighter days.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.