A Better Way Expands Suicide Prevention Efforts

Katie Blankenship assists a caller on the hotline at A Better Way. Photo providedKatie Blankenship assists a caller on the hotline at A Better Way. Photo provided

By: Teresa Clemmons, Executive Director, A Better Way—

Muncie, IN—The State of Indiana received a National Suicide Prevention Capacity Building grant of $584,475, and will be sub-granting $122,500 in funds to A Better Way over a two-year period, which began October 1st. The grant will allow A Better Way to hire crisis specialists, recruit and train staff and volunteers, and participate in outreach events. These improvements have increased A Better Way’s capacity to handle suicide prevention calls, making the agency able to grow their service area to twenty counties in East Central and Northeast Indiana.  In September, A Better Way handled 364 calls on the suicide prevention line.

A Better Way has a history of crisis intervention in Delaware County.  However, several years ago they made concerted efforts to improve their ability to assist in suicide prevention.  The shelter for domestic violence, also run by A Better Way, was finding that many of the victims they were serving experienced thoughts of suicide. The ABW staff had a deep desire to help, but felt they lacked the expertise to serve those individuals appropriately.

A solution came when staff were able to attend train-the-trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and then returned to the shelter to train every staff person and volunteer who handled calls.  Upon receipt of this training, the agency began operation of a suicide prevention hotline, in association with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and received accreditation for such services with Contact U.S.A.  Since then, additional staff have become certified to train in safeTALK, and Question Persuade Refer (QPR).

All of this has made us better able to serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to help suicidal callers.  Andrea Carie, Children’s Case Manager at A Better Way, states that, “Handling those calls, providing emotional support and referrals, and just listening to them, makes you feel like you have really done something of value.  The training also helps you in many other aspects of life, as you interact with people you know and people you don’t know.”

According to the Center on Disease Control, Data Brief No. 330, November 2018, “The suicide rate increased 33 percent from 1999 through 2017, from 10.5 to 14 suicides per 100,000. Rates have increased more sharply since 2006. Suicide ranks as the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35 to 54, and the second for 10- to 34-year-olds. It remains the 10th leading cause of death overall.”  A Better Way is prepared to help.

If you would like more information, please contact A Better Way at 747-9107. We can provide suicide prevention presentations to your group, as well as trainings.  If you are in need of assistance regarding thoughts of suicide, please call 800-273-8255.

The twenty counties now served by A Better Way’s suicide prevention hotline include Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Madison, Miami, Noble, Randolph, Steuben, Wabash, Wayne, Wells and Whitely Counties.