Nebraska Health Leaders Highlight State's Suicide Prevention Efforts, Resources

Sept. 20, 2021, 5 p.m. ·

Suicide prevention hotline
September is Suicide Prevention Month in Nebraska, with resources like a prevention hotline available to people in crisis.

State health officials are highlighting Nebraska’s suicide prevention efforts as part of a month-long outreach to raise awareness about resources available.

Governor Pete Ricketts has declared September Suicide Prevention Month in Nebraska. The state has a number of resources for people struggling with suicidal thoughts and their loved ones and friends. Sheri Dawson is the Director of Behavioral Health with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“We want people to know that there is a place to call, which is 1-800-273-8255,” Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Director of Behavioral Health Cheri Dawson said. “Nebraska has a suicide prevention lifeline and the number of calls has increased 86% since 2016.”

Julia Hebenstreit is the executive director of the Kim Foundation, an Omaha-based organization that provides education and resources on suicide prevention. She said there are basic warning signs for friends and family to watch for.

“The biggest one is watching for that change in pattern of behavior, whether that’s eating, sleeping, substance use, drinking but also withdrawing from activities, withdrawing from loved-ones, talking or reading about death if that was something they had not done previously and that overall sense of hopelessness and just that overwhelming feeling for them and they may be expressing that in different ways.”

In July of next year, the state’s suicide prevention hotline will switch over to a simpler “9-8-8” number similar to “9-1-1” for people in crisis as part of a nationwide effort to make it easier for people considering suicide to find support.