There were 621 people who died by suicide in Arkansas in 2017, making it the leading cause of violent death in Arkansas that year, officials say.


“The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and partners want Arkansans to know there is help and hope,” according to a news release.


ADH and the Attorney General’s office addressed the issue Sept. 10 at the beginning of Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. At an event at the State Capitol, they discussed the state’s efforts to reduce the number of suicide-related deaths.


Dr. Nathaniel Smith, ADH Director and State Health Officer, discussed the public health impact of suicide, including the steps the ADH is taking.


“These steps include training community leaders and educators about how to help prevent suicides and running campaigns like ‘Let’s Talk About It,’ which promotes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” according to the release.


“An average of over 1,000 Arkansans call the lifeline each month. The Arkansas Lifeline Call Center, which answers calls to the national line made in Arkansas, is housed by ADH. The call center was mandated by Act 811 of 2017 and opened in December 2017,” according to the release.


Smith spoke indepth about efforts.


“Where there’s help, there’s hope,” Smith said. “The Arkansas Department of Health is committed to providing help to Arkansans in the midst of crisis when they need it the most through training community leaders, education, and the Arkansas Lifeline Call Center.”


Sixty seven youth between the ages of 10-24 died by suicide in 2016.


“An important component for the suicide prevention program is improving continuity of care and follow-up for youth identified at risk. The suicide prevention program is implementing integrated networks of care for community populations to ensure that follow-up care and evidence-based treatments are effectively in place,” according to the release.


Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that on average, 50 Arkansans per month lose their battles with mental illness or depression and too often, family and friends aren’t aware of or don’t understand the sense of hopelessness of their loved one.


“Arkansas is one big small town, and we must work together to give hope to those in need and bring awareness across the state in order to save the lives of our neighbors and friends,” Rutledge said.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Veterans can access the Veteran Crisis Line by calling the national line and pressing 1. Anyone can also text the crisis line by sending TALK to 741741, or chat online at www.chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.


The ADH Injury and Violence Prevention Section works to prevent suicides through education, resources, and awareness. To learn more about the trainings and resources that are available for your group, business, or school, visit http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/suicide-prevention.