On the steps of the Idaho State Capitol Monday morning, officials launched a new version of an Idaho-based resource to help those contemplating suicide.
"We'd like to send a message: A hot line is more than just a telephone line," said Peter Wollheim, member of the Idaho Commission on Suicide Prevention and Idaho Suicide Prevention Action Network boards.
As of today, 18 volunteer operators became available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last week, Boise Weekly spoke with organizers of the hot line, who announced the debut of the new service at a press conference this morning. Representatives included Linda Peterson, founder of the Speedy Foundation in honor of her son, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson.
"There are no words to describe the loss of a loved one to suicide," said Peterson. "But out of these tragedies comes a gift."
Funding and support for the hot line came from local groups, including the Speedy Foundation, the Idaho Legislature, state agencies, nonprofits and charities.
David Brasuell, administrator of the Idaho Division of Veteran's Services and Meridian Sen. Marv Hagedorn both shared the sentiment that for Idaho service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the hot line is a critical resource.
"We want to remove the stigma for our warriors to seek help," said Brasuell.
ISPH officials hope to secure more volunteers to extend the hot line's hours, with a goal of Monday through Friday service by January 2013. Organizers expect the hot line to receive about 15 calls a day, to start, but believe that number will grow as more people learn about the resource.