April 2021 Newsletter

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It’s bittersweet that this month, I’m sending my last newsletter to you. My partner Matt and I are heading back east for that salty sea air, warmer winters, and to be closer to our families. I have accepted a new position with the Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston, SC. My last day at HQ will be April 30. On a personal and exciting note, our new house is just 12 minutes from the beach!!!!

These past four plus years at KSPHQ have changed my life in ways that I never knew possible. I am grateful for my experiences, for your support, and continue to be amazed by our volunteer counselors who give so much of themselves to help strangers who may have nowhere else to turn.

I am grateful for you. KSPHQ is an incredible organization worthy of your support. I have had the privilege of experiencing true acts of heroism every day that has a tremendous impact on people all over Kansas and beyond our borders. The people of HQ truly save lives. Through your support, you save lives. That sentiment might feel diluted from overuse, but it’s so true. 

As I pass the torch, I ask this of you: Please join me in continuing to support the support, education, and crisis services that HQ provides to tens of thousands of people every year for free. I’m going to continue to donate monthly, and I hope you will too. We can’t do it without you. 

This isn’t goodbye. I will always carry this experience in my heart and you will always have my unconditional gratitude. 

With my most sincere thanks and love,

Allan

Allan Bunch

Vice President of Communication and Development

Headquarters, Inc. is now Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ

Education | Support | Crisis Services

Hope today for a better tomorrow.

 

Donate Today

 

WELCOME to our new team members

Hope Blankenship joined KSPHQ last week as our new Administrative Support Specialist. A native Kansan, she and her husband spent the past few years in Texas and North Carolina before moving back to Lawrence for good in 2017. She’s a foodie and loves doing DIY home projects, not to mention keeping up with an adorable two-year-old. 

Michael Hutton also started last week as our new Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Michael is an avid cat lover (3 at home!) and a former professional musician. He’s originally from Gas, Kansas, but spent most of his years in Salina, KS. He did his undergraduate at the University of Central Missouri and just recently graduated from KU with his Master’s Degree in Communication Studies.

Roxie Lytle started this week as our new Development Officer. We are grateful to our friends at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club for letting us steal her!

Roxie has lived in Lawrence since she moved here for college at the age of 18 and has never left. She considers herself a townie and loves Lawrence. Besides mental health, her passions include coffee, refinishing furniture, and Scrabble. 

 
 

Our feature this month: All about 988

 

NOTE: Until 988 is fully online, call 1-800-273-8255 if you are in crisis or visit our Get Help page to learn more about how our services work.

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What is 988?

By July of 2022, 988 will be the new number for anyone in crisis to call. Much like 911 is known as the emergency number for police, fire, or medical help, 988 will be the crisis line for a mental health crisis or suicide prevention.

988 will work exactly like the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. When someone calls 988, their call will be routed to their local crisis center.

KSPHQ’s counseling center (aka, Headquarters Counseling Center) is the local crisis center serving all 105 counties in Kansas. If the counselors at HQ are helping others or aren’t able to answer, the call “rolls” to another crisis center in the 170-center Lifeline network.

Anyone can call for any reason. If you’re thinking about suicide, experiencing a mental health crisis, concerned for a friend, grieving, feeling hopeless, or just need to talk to someone about something that’s going on in your life, you can call.

Our counselors volunteer their time because they care about you and want to help.

 

How did 988 come about and will when it be online? 

In August of 2018, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act instructing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to examine what measures would be needed (and how much those measures would cost!) to enhance the operation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), specifically with attention given to using a 3-digit dialing code. After many months of number crunching and investigation, the FCC introduced the possibility of using 988 for the NSPL. Rather than people needing to memorize 1-800-273-8255, all they would need to dial is 988! This 988 number would operate in the same way as other 3-digit numbers, such as 911. With this move, 988 would incorporate the NSPL into an umbrella of mental health services. Bottom Line: this number will serve as a hub for a wide variety of mental health concerns, not simply those who are struggling with suicidality.

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved designation of 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Thursday, July 16, 2020. These rules require all telephone service providers to enable the designation of 988 as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis line within 2 years, effective July 16, 2022.

As of last November, Sprint/T-Mobile was the first and only carrier to date to bring 988 to their customers. The 988 system is already available for Sprint/T-Mobile customers. Customers with land lines or other mobile service providers should still call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK). 

 

What does this mean for Kansas? 

The most recent report from Vibrant Emotional Health projects the Lifeline’s call volume will increase by 300-800%. That means 46,000-148,000 more calls will come from Kansans.

As the only crisis center serving all 105 counties in Kansas, KSPHQ’s counseling center, Headquarters Counseling Center, will need a large, enthusiastic, and energized group of volunteer counselors to answer the phones so that all Kansans who need help can get help. If you are interested in helping others, please learn more about our volunteer counselor program by clicking here.

Currently, the creation of 988 is an unfunded mandate. H.B. 2281, or the LIVES Act, is a bill in the Kansas Legislature that will fund Kansas suicide Lifeline services and crisis stabilization services to create an alternative to hospitalizations and reduce the need for law enforcement to respond to mental health crises.

Currently, HB 2281 is in the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. It is likely to pass the House and Senate during the veto session in May. It is very rare for bills to pass during veto session. This is why we ask YOU to Click here to find your legislator. Contact them and ask them about their plan to fund 988 and for their support of the LIVES Act


All Kansans need this bill to pass so that KSPHQ is able to answer the call when our friends, family, and neighbors need to be connected to someone who cares and can help to resolve their mental health and/or suicide crisis.

Learn more about 988 at 988ks.org

 
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Entries are in–and the results are amazing! Thank you to all of the Kansas middle and high school students who participated in the suicide prevention art contest. The talent we have across the state is truly amazing.

Check out the submissions in our online gallery!

 

Autism and Suicide Prevention

by Michael Hutton, KSPHQ Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Did you know? April is Autism Awareness Month! 

During the month of April, we appreciate the opportunity to spread awareness for those in our community with autism and share stories of empowerment and success. The movement for autism rights has enabled us at KSPHQ to learn more about the connections between autism and the risk factors for suicide. Though many of us are connected to autism through our friends, families, coworkers, newsletter readers, and community members, we are often unaware of the suicidal thoughts and behaviors that occur within the autistic community. 

This week, I have been reading an editorial from Sarah Cassidy and her team in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders from September of 2020. The article synthesizes some of the major findings from research studies focusing on suicide ideation and those with autism.

The article opens with some of the larger research findings in the field, such as: 

  • Autistic people are significantly more likely to die by self-harm and suicide than those in the general population (Hirvikoski et al. 2016; Hwang et al. 2019; Kirby et al. 2019)
  • Autistic adults are significantly more likely to experience non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) compared to the general population. NSSI is associated with an increased risk of suicidality (Cassidy et al. 2018b; Maddox et al. 2017; Moseley et al. 20192020)
  • Autistic youth may at increased risk of suicidal ideation, with emotion regulation being associated with an increased risk of suicidality (Conner et al., 2020)
  • Until recently, aspects like self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and behaviors have not been given significant attention in autism research studies (Cassidy 2020; Cassidy and Rodgers 2017)

Sarah Cassidy and her team argue that there is very little research focused on why autistic people are at increased risk of self-harm and suicide. “To make progress,” the article notes, “it is crucial for different stakeholders to listen and learn from one another” (Cassidy et al., 2020). These stakeholders involve everyone in our community: friends, family, coworkers, businesses, health care providers, and YOU.

Let’s all join together to increase our awareness of autism and suicide prevention by reading articles and learning more about what you can do to advocate for awareness. It is critically important to advance disability rights in our community in order to ensure that autistic people with lived experience get to be a part of the conversation regarding autism and suicide. Check out advocacy groups like The Autism Self Advocacy Network to learn more about their efforts to advance disability rights. 

Looking for ways to help KSPHQ spread the word for suicide awareness and prevention? Share social media posts, donate to KSPHQ’s outreach efforts, read the article from Sarah Cassidy and her team, check out the KSPHQ.org website, or join an information session and become a KSPHQ volunteer! However you decide to get involved, your advocacy will help to bring more suicide prevention awareness to our local community.

Thank you for continuing to support KSPHQ and those in your local community. Through all of our combined effort, we have the power to save lives. 

(Read the full editorial from Sarah Cassidy and her team by clicking here)

 
 

Do you want to make a difference?

KSPHQ is looking for new volunteers!

The KSPHQ team is recruiting new volunteers to the organization! If you are interested in learning more about the resources and programs or simply want to help those within our local community, click here or visit our website (ksphq.org) to learn more about our upcoming information sessions.

You can truly be a lifesaver.

What it Means to be a Volunteer?

Volunteer counselors answer calls on a local hotline for emotional support and mental health crises a well as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Our training is very thorough and you’ll have the support of dozens of other volunteer counselors and staff.

Informational meetings are held in January, May, and August/September; they are open to the public and provide information about HQCC, our training program, and what it’s like to volunteer at the center. 

Volunteer Counselor Trainings –

Spring 2021

Orientation meetings take place vis Zoom (link on our website) and you only need to attend one. All times are Central Time. Summer 2021 meeting dates are:

  • Wednesday, May 6th at 6:00pm
  • Monday, May 10th at 6:00pm
  • Wednesday, May 19th at 6:00pm
  • Tuesday, May 25th at 6:00pm

After the meeting, you’ll have the opportunity to fill out an application form. Applications will be due back by May 30 by 7 pm.

After applications have been reviewed, we interview training candidates to help us select those who are the best fit for our work. 

Volunteer counselor training will take place online but volunteer shifts take place in person at our crisis call center in Lawrence, KS. Learn About Becoming a Counselor

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Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ

2110 Delaware St, Suite B
Lawrence, KS 66046

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