SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 192 South Dakotans died by suicide in 2022, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. That’s down from a state record high of 202 suicide deaths in 2021.
A non-profit in South Dakota trying to prevent those kinds of losses just got a boost for its mission.
The Helpline Center continues to see an increase in calls, texts and chats to 988.
The three-digit number is a resource for people struggling with mental health, substance use or suicidal thoughts.
“Ultimately, we believe that is a good thing that more people are reaching out. With 988, we want to stress that you don’t need to necessarily be in a suicide crisis. We want to make sure that anytime you have a question about mental health or you’re having a mental health issue, suicide or depression or anxiety, we’re here 24/7,” Helpline Center VP of program development Betsy Schuster said.
Schuster says part of that increase is thanks to more 988 awareness, including from the 437 Project.
This weekend, 12 people ran across the state to not only highlight 988, but raise money.
This year’s journey brought in more than $250,000 for the Helpline Center.
That’s more than double what the project raised last year.
“Wow. We have never had a gift that large to the Helpline Center before. It means a tremendous amount to a small non-profit like the Helpline Center,” Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said.
The money will help in a variety of ways including getting 988 coasters in bars and restaurants across South Dakota.
The Helpline Center is also looking at expanding its staff.
“We’ve had so many requests for doing suicide prevention trainings and also grief support, to help individuals who have lost loved ones to suicide, so this will help us add another staff person,” Kittams said.
Thanks to the 437 Project, there’s more support to go around for these programs.