ICYMI: Rep. French Hill Op-Ed in the Saline Courier, Raising awareness Suicide Awareness Prevention Month

Rep. French Hill Op-Ed in the Saline Courier, Suicide Awareness Prevention Month

Little Rock, AR -- Rep. French Hill spoke out in The Saline Courier about raising awareness for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The full op-ed is below:

Every 16 hours, right here in Arkansas, we lose a neighbor to suicide. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the state and the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10-34. Last year, we lost 583 of our neighbors, friends, and family members to suicide, 107 of these losses being veterans. Suicide is an epidemic and one that requires the attention of every Arkansan.

The suicide rate among veterans is 1.5 times that of the average civilian and made up 18 percent of suicides in our state last year. Thirty percent of active duty and military personnel struggle with a mental health problem requiring treatment, but only half ever receive treatment. We owe it to our heroes to break the stigma behind mental health and encourage one another to get the help we may need. 
September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a month for us to join one another to recognize the importance of mental health, recognize the signs of someone struggling, encourage those who may be struggling to reach out, and ultimately be there for one another. 

I am proud of the resources we have here in central Arkansas to help and support those who need it most. One of these valuable resources includes the Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas that provides therapy and support to all ages in a comfortable environment – including offering telehealth. Other resources include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Arkansas and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which has a list of providers. Veterans in need can contact the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, which offers services throughout the state.
In addition to these organizations, resources available both within our community and nationally. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available toll-free at 1-800-273-8255 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. A text line is also available to by texting “NAMI” to 741-741. Additional support for veterans is available via by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and pressing 1, or by texting 838-255. These lifelines will confidentially provide help to all who need it and walk through the resources available. 

The suicide rate in Arkansas is above the national average. We need to work together to change this. I have a part to play and recently introduced the Preventing Overdoses and Saving Lives Act to prevent tragedies related to opioid overdoses. In 2020, 547 Arkansans died of an overdose, and purposeful overdose accounts for almost 13% of suicides nationally. Last year, at the height of COVID-19, I introduced a bipartisan bill to make accessing telehealth services easier. These bills aim to prevent avoidable tragedies. I will also continue to support legislation that supports mental health programs because these programs save lives. 

My office is ready to help you find additional resources that may be needed. We can be reached at (501) 324-5941. If there is an emergency, please call 911 immediately. Mental health does not discriminate and can affect anyone. It’s okay to seek help, and if you or someone you know needs help, resources are available

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