A former Governor is working to raise awareness of a suicide prevention hotline. Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports. Terry Branstad, who is now president at Des Moines University, is helping lead a campaign to publicize the toll-free phone number 1-800-273-TALK.
He says the line is designed to help people contemplating suicide, or people who have a friend or family member at risk, obtain mental health counseling. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Iowans between the ages of 15 and 40.
"Suicides among teenagers and young adults is a significant problem," Branstad says, "and it’s hard for people to talk about it. So having a suicide prevention number is a very important and significant step." The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is staffed around the clock with professional counselors at 115 locations across the country.
Branstad the Veteran’s Administration is also involved in the hotline because a lot of suicide victims are military veterans. Since 2002, Branstad has been involved with an advisory group known as Teen Screen. The program offers free mental health screenings to teenagers considered at-risk for suicide.