It’s been a tough year in Northern Virginia as youth and young adult suicides bereaved families, communities and schools. Many adult family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues were lost to suicide as well. In the aftermath, lives were cut short and so much promise left unrealized.
Suicide, a serious issue locally and nationally that claims the lives of 44,000 people annually, is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide and second leading cause for people aged 15-24.
At PRS, Inc., a nonprofit that runs Northern Virginia’s crisis hotline and textline, we are marking September’s Suicide Prevention Month by launching the #CallTextLive Campaign. We’ve teamed up with Connection Newspapers for this third annual campaign to engage the community in discussing suicide and encouraging people to get help by calling or texting a hotline.
Using the hashtag #CallTextLive, the Campaign works to educate the community about resources available and actions they can take to bring awareness to suicide prevention and intervention. In fact, a simple call or text to a crisis hotline or textline often provides the empathetic, trained voice that someone in crisis needs to reduce his/her pain and provide alternatives and connections to care.
The #CallTextLive Campaign has a variety of events and actions to bring suicide prevention to the forefront. Throughout the month, we will post these on a web-based interactive calendar at www.prsinc.org/calltextlive. In addition, we will be sharing tips and resources via social media and asking people to share their stories and photos on PRS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #CallTextLive hashtag as well as posting Stories of Hope — video vignettes from survivors, family members, and hotline volunteers.
A highlight of the month is Selfie Day on Sept. 21 when friends, community, and clients show support by tagging themselves on selfies on our Facebook and other social media pages using #CallTextLive. We have t-shirts available for purchase for PRS Selfie Day. We also encourage the community to join the PRS team (with #CallTextLive t-shirts) for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Fairfax Walk on Sept. 16 and the NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) NOVA and Loudoun Walks, which are both taking place Sept. 23.
For every death, 278 people manage to move past thoughts of suicide and survive. PRS supports this through its CrisisLink program, which handled nearly 34,000 crisis calls and exchanged over 33,000 crisis text messages from the Northern Virginia region last year. Any time of the day or night, the PRS CrisisLink Hotline can be reached at 800-273-TALK  and the textline by texting "CONNECT" to 85511.
Making a call or sending a text to PRS CrisisLink saves lives. Removing the stigma around reaching out, discussing issues that contribute to suicide and encouraging people to get help is key. By participating in #CallTextLive, we can turn up the volume, and make it OK to have a conversation, make a call or send a text.