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Midlands Voices: Boys Town National Hotline bolsters youth suicide prevention

Midlands Voices: Boys Town National Hotline bolsters youth suicide prevention

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We were heartened to see the World-Herald focus attention on the mental health needs of young people in its recent editorial, “Increase in youth suicides requires community response.”

When it comes to keeping young people safe, there is no such thing as being too aware or having too many resources.

For students and families throughout Douglas County, life-saving help can be accessed quickly and easily in a multitude of ways, which is critically important now. The ongoing pandemic has disrupted mental health services in many schools while also contributing to increases in depression, anxiety, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a dangerous combination that, without greater awareness and action, can lead to tragedy.

The Boys Town National Hotline is collaborating and working alongside more than 80 area schools through the Safe2HelpNE tip line. This important partnership allows students to anonymously report threats to the safety or well-being of others by calling, using a mobile app or going online at

On any day at any hour, students can connect with trained counselors to share concerns about violence, substance abuse, suicidal or self-harm thoughts, and other issues. When they call, the counselor can notify the school with information so the at-risk student can get further help and support. In situations where the risk is high or there is imminent danger, the crisis counselor can connect with first responders to ensure safety and provide access to other community resources that may assist the youth or family.

Additionally, the YourLifeYourVoice teen website, along with its free mobile app, gives young people access to free, supportive counseling and self-care strategies to help them destress and improve their mental health.

In 2019, the Boys Town National Hotline, 402-448-3000, which is the local center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, responded to more than 160,000 phone and online contacts and successfully prevented more than 500 active suicides that were in progress. Trained professional crisis counselors are available around the clock to provide support to young people and adults experiencing emotional stress, mental health concerns, and/or thoughts of self-harm.

By sharing this information, we hope to remind parents, teens and all those who advocate on their behalf that no one must suffer alone or in silence. Throughout our wonderful community, help is available in many different ways. By increasing awareness of suicide-prevention resources and taking action to improve the emotional well-being of everyone we love, hope can be restored and lives will be saved.

Ginny Gohr is director of the Boys Town National Hotline.

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