JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What starts as a phone call can quickly evolve into an in-person response from someone who can help.
Here on the First Coast – a rapid response team of mental health professionals is on standby around the clock.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control shows an alarming rise in young Americans taking their own life.
“When folks get to that point, it’s because they don’t know what else to do,” Theresa Rulien said.
Rulien created the rapid response team at Child Guidance Center 15 years ago. She is now the CEO of the non-profit. The goal is to intervene in a crisis and teach how to get a positive outcome.
“Helping someone to feel that they are not alone, they’re not the only ones that feel these emotions,” Rulien said.
Artwork around the Child Guidance Center offices – some made by those whose loved ones committed suicide.
A 17-year study released in late 2019 paints a different picture. The National Center for Health Statistics cited suicide as the second leading cause of death for 10-25-year olds. It added, from 2007 through 2017 the suicide rate increased to nearly 10 percent of violent deaths in the same age range.
The On Your Side team reached out to school districts across the area.
Duval County Schools said it is only aware of suicides if a parent or guardian gives notice. In 2018-2019 there were four student suicides – the most going back five years. The district has set up half-a-dozen mental health programs including parent involved ones.
Clay County Schools said it too has a series of programs and plans available to support its students.
Rulein said it is up to these partnerships with schools, organizations, and parents that help keep a vigilant watch for someone facing an emergency.
“Recognizing that children or people, adults, that go through traumatic events when they’re young that then affects their development for the rest of their lives,” she said.
The rapid response team is a 24/7 mental health hotline, which may also respond onsite if necessary. The team serves those in need up to age 25 and may be reached at 904-982-4911.
Additional services for any age can be reached through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.