Wyoming has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation, but last week, the state joined the National Crisis Text Line to make it easier for people at risk of suicide to reach out for help.
People can text "WYO" to 741-741 and hear back from a crisis counselor within five minutes. The counselors can help them talk through their problems, and then help them find services in their communities.
The National Crisis Text Line has exchanged over 23 million messages since it started in 2013. These messages provide data about the days and times when people most often experience suicidal thoughts. The service also tracks 27 topic areas important to mental health, such as bullying, body image, and LGBT issues.
By joining the line, the state will have access to anonymous data that will let communities know how to focus their services.
Rhianna Brand, director of the Grace For 2 Brothers Foundation, worked with the Wyoming Department of Health on the program. Brand says her organization had been fielding crisis calls and needed help handling the large number of callers. She reached out to Prevention Management Organization director Mikki Munsen, and they decided that the text line would be the best way to reach young people and rural communities.
Munsen says that the service will also help the state be more proactive in its efforts to improve mental health.
"My hope is, once we get at least a good six months to a year of data to then be able to say, 'here's what people have been texting in about and what they are needing,' and take that to the state and say, 'okay, now what are we going to do about it?'"
Munsen and Brand recently presented the text line to the Governor's Symposium on Suicide Prevention in Casper.