United Way Supports Suicide Prevention

Family, friends, classmates and the community are still trying to process their grief over the recent suicides of two Mandeville High School students. Depression can affect anyone at anytime, anywhere. That’s why United Way of Southeast Louisiana continues to support suicide prevention efforts.

United Way joined with St. Tammany Parish Government, VIALINK 2-1-1 and other direct service providers and funders in a public awareness campaign to let people know there is help.

St. Tammany Parish Director of Information Ronnie Simpson has created four PSAs you can view online and soon on television and cable stations. “May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When someone succumbs to depression, those who are left behind suffer. Help is out there. It's okay to talk about it. Call 2-1-1 or text 504-777-EASE(3273) to speak with a counselor by voice or text.”

United Way of Southeast Louisiana President and CEO Michael Williamson says, “I am hopeful these PSAs will encourage people in all our communities to talk openly about the issue of suicide. Awareness is key and we must all look for the warning signs. Prevention is possible. We can save lives.”

Williamson says special events held in St. Tammany Parish help. ”$16,000 in proceeds from our two Red Beans and Rice events plus our Glitz, Glamor and Giving Gala have now been distributed to our partner agencies VIALINK 2-1-1 and Volunteers of America to help fund their work in the Suicide Prevention Support Program. “

LaVondra Dobbs, CEO of VIALINK 2-1-1 says, "Suicide prevention takes many groups working together. VIA LINK would like to thank all those making the Crisis Teen Text Line a reality for our region: Baptist Community Ministries, Entergy, Greater New Orleans Foundation, GPOA, Institute for Mental Hygiene, Mary Freeman Wisdom, Methodist Health Systems Foundation, United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Wisner Fund. The well-being of our youth is truly a community effort and we are fortunate to have so many supporters that embrace this work."

Volunteers of America (VOA), is helping reduce rates of readmission to the emergency room for individuals experiencing emotional and mental health difficulties.  Counselors deploy to crisis scenes to make a recommendation to first responders about a course of treatment, acting as liaisons among first responders, medical personnel and families. Intensive follow-up care coordination, after the immediate crisis has passed, ensures families follow through with referrals and services recommended.  

In 2010, United Way adopted the St. Tammany Parish Suicide Prevention Support to help address the unacceptable number of suicides and suicide attempts and to provide community awareness and intervention. This crucial program also provides residents needing counseling services and mental health care with better and more structured access to assistance and follow-up support. Through campaign pledges and special events, United Way has donated more than $139,000 towards suicide prevention and crises response efforts in St. Tammany Parish.