BILLINGS – The Yellowstone Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition is working to publicize a new three-digit suicide prevention hotline and use signage in Billings and surrounding communities.
“The sign in the courtyard serves to promote the number 988, but also to promote the various groups and organizations in the community that are dedicated to suicide prevention,” said coalition president Sarah Music.
One of the groups working with the league is Serious Inquiry.
“My dad died by suicide, and I think like so many other families, we were completely overwhelmed,” Ask in Earnest founder Darla Tyler-McSherry said, “His friend said you knew when your Dad was in town. When he sees you walking down the street, he’ll stop and seriously ask how you are.
Tyler-McSherry lost his father to suicide in 2016 on the Big Sandy family farm. Hearing this story from her father’s friend really moved her, and in 2018 she created Ask in Earnest to help other farmers and ranchers.
“Farms and ranches have a disproportionate suicide rate compared to other professions,” Tyler-McSherry said.
Montana began using the 988 hotline in July 2022. Music said that when three-digit numbers first became an option, there was “a slight increase” in calls to the hotline, and it ” hope people will continue to use it as well. ”.
You can also use the hotline for advice on how to help if you are concerned that someone is in trouble.
“We don’t have to worry about remembering that long number anymore,” Tyler-McSherry said.
Signs of Hope will run until September 30, raising awareness and providing advice to those who need it most.
This Yellowstone Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition There will also be a free in-person and online conference on September 24, offering presentations on suicide prevention strategies.