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Local organization efforts focusing on suicide prevention

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 4:49 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Experts say the number of suicides in the Omaha-metro is at an all-time high.

But a number of local organizations are teaming up to make a drastic change.

Over the last two years, suicide rates in the Omaha-metro continued to climb. The trend has several organizations on high alert.

“We have seen just as many youth suicides so far this year than we saw last year, which is the highest number since the data has been collected,” said Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of the Kim Foundation.

The alarming numbers are bringing together groups from around the community to make a change.

The Kim Foundation has partnered with major healthcare systems, law enforcement, school districts, and advocacy groups to see what can be done differently.

“This really is going to be a long-term fix and it’s going to be more than we can do overnight but we challenged everyone in the meeting,” Hebenstreit said. “What can each of us do in our organizations do in the next 30 days to really make a difference.”

The group collaborated on the idea of a digital toolkit.

“We worked to create that and really build that up so we took an approach that breaks the toolkit down — it’s a three-pronged approach,” Hebenstreit said.

The digital toolkit offers people resources like where to go to get help and what warning signs to look for.

It also has advice for loved ones on how to make sure a home is safe and includes digital tips to help keep kids away from things that may cause them harm — like social media.

“We need to learn how to put limits on that and to make sure that they are using it safely and that all of us are using social media for good and nothing else,” Hebenstreit said. “It definitely has an impact on the youth and the younger generation.”

Their goal is to get the digital toolkit and information out to as many sources as possible in order to alter the alarming trend of suicides.

IF YOU NEED HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 all day every day. For help in Spanish, call 1-888-628-945. More information is available online.

Find more support resources on youth suicide and learn how to care for yourself and help others on the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

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