March 8, 2017
Regarding House Bill 1775: An act to mandate that the Department of Health establish and maintain a suicide prevention hotline; and for other purposes
Most Honorable Representatives,
I wanted to write you to introduce myself and the Arkansas Crisis Center. This year I have the distinguished honor of serving the Arkansas Crisis Center as the President of its board of directors. After reading the attached article published March 5, 2017 in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette it is painfully apparent that you may not be aware of our organization. I intend to fully remedy this. The Arkansas Crisis Center was founded in 1985, yes that’s correct; we have been serving those in crisis, in all 75 counties of this great state, for 32 years. In the past we have successfully run a 24 hour hotline, we have answered the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for over a decade, we continue to play a crucial role in linking our residents in need with available community resources through our United Way partnership with Arkansas 211, we have provided community outreach to our youth, hosted Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support groups, and countless other services. I was shocked to read in the paper that it is believed that our state does not currently have a call center dedicated to restoring hope, empowering people, and saving lives in Arkansas. This simply isn’t true, as this is the Arkansas Crisis Center’s only reason for being, it has been for 32 years, and I fully expect our organization to continue doing great work far into the future.
It probably wouldn’t come as a shock to discover that over the past 32 years the ACC has had more than its fair share of struggles and setbacks. The good news is that I am here to tell you that even through our organization’s own crisis we have persevered, because the services we provide, and the many we would like to provide, for our fellow residents of Arkansas are important. We have a dedicated team of individuals whose sole mission is to save lives in this state.
I agree with the gentleman that was quoted in the paper “A call center won’t be a fix-all, but it’s a great first step”; which is why we have endeavored to maintain our call center. I believe the Arkansas Crisis Center and the Government of the State of Arkansas can help each other. I was delighted to see that the federal government offers around $1.2 million dollars in grant dollars, I’m appalled to hear that the state is missing out on this opportunity, especially since this great state already has an established call center dedicated to saving the lives of Arkansans. Those dollars would go a long way to helping the Arkansas Crisis Center staff its lines 27/7, fund and expand its programs, as well as incorporate satellite offices as hubs in various counties in the state. Another quote from the article that I agree with is that “a call center would pay for itself by reducing the number of emergency room visits” can you imagine the increased costs that would have been incurred, if the ACC were not already running an operational hotline? I also know first-hand how expensive and time consuming it can be to build a call center from the ground up. These expenses alone should be enough reason for the state of Arkansas to choose to partner with the Arkansas Crisis Center. When we save even just one life, we have more than paid for ourselves.
We have already laid the foundation, partner with the Arkansas Crisis Center to continue saving lives. Together we can battle this epidemic that affects so many in this state.
Please feel free to reach out to our Executive Director Mary Katherine McKinley at our offices: 479-365-2140
Jeremy K. Upton
President Arkansas Crisis Center Board of Directors