Welcome to the Arkansas Crisis Center! It’s such an honor and privilege to be part of this amazing organization. I first became involved with the ACC in 2009 through their work with mental health providers and other community partners in local and state suicide prevention initiatives. Arkansas has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country and saw a 30% increase in suicide from 2005 to 2015. The available data lags a few years, but in 2015, 577 Arkansans died as a result of suicide. Benton and Washington County alone had 334 suicides from 2011 to 2015. As someone who works in the mental health field, these are much more than just numbers to me. I’ve seen individuals struggle with thoughts of suicide, and I’ve also been witness to the devastating impact suicide has on not just family and friends, but also schools and entire communities.

Over the years, the ACC has developed innovative services in response to emerging community needs. Among those services is our work with victims of crime through the Victims of Crime Assistance grant. At our core though has always been the crisis call center. As the incoming Board President, one of my goals this year is to work closely with our Executive Director to focus on and improve that core call center service. The stage has already been set for success at the Arkansas Crisis Center with the help of community partners, such as Mental Health America of Northwest Arkansas. In the fall of 2017 we were able to purchase new phones and other support technology and software. ACC is also (with the help of Blue Zoo) launching an outreach campaign to connect and reconnect with community partners, friends, volunteers, donors…and most importantly those who need our help. With that two-pronged approach we’re confident that we can reduce suicide in Arkansas.

We have a goal and a vision of Zero Suicides in Arkansas by 2025. While that is an ambitious goal, it’s one in which we believe strongly. It’s also a timely goal and not just because deaths by suicide are increasing. As we plan to focus on our core crisis call center service, Arkansas is undergoing a major change in mental health services, especially for those with limited resources. We are hopeful that the changes will ultimately result in improved mental health care in Arkansas, but even with potentially good change comes uncertainty. The crisis call center will be an important support to many Arkansans as they navigate through a different mental health treatment landscape.

We can’t do it alone though. Please join us in our mission to restore hope, empower people, and save lives through suicide prevention. There are so many ways you can help. We would welcome call center volunteers and applicants to join our Board of Directors. New and continuing donors will be essential to our ability to invest in staff and resources to continually improve services. Please reach out to us!

Incoming Board President
Jared Sparks