Governor Gordon visited the Central Wyoming Counseling Center on Tuesday to learn more about the organization's suicide prevention lifeline and the texting services that accompany it.

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Governor Gordon met with Kevin Hazucha, CEO of the Central Wyoming Counseling Center, as well as Bernice Hazucha, the Director of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Both explained the importance of mental health services to the Governor, and gave him a tour of the facility. They specifically focused on the now year-old suicide prevention call center, which was granted funding for two years before Wyoming's budget cuts which include cuts to mental health services across the state, including CWCC.

Both Kevin and Bernice stressed the importance of not only the call center, but of mental health services in general for Wyoming.

Bernice and her team provided the Governor with a Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call Volume Summary, which outlined the impact the call center has had in just the first year of its operation.

According to the summary, CWCC has taken part in 18 active rescues. They've taken calls from 33 veterans and 91 teens/adolescents. Altogether, CWCC has provided life-saving assistance to 1,227 people from August 11, 2020- August 10, 2021.

Per the summary:

  • Wyoming continues to rank as #1 in the per capita suicide rate
  • The CWCC Lifeline Answer Rate is 100%
  • The CWCC Suicide Prevention Lifeline became Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredited in July of 2021
  • Bernice Hasucha, the Lifeline Director, has over 20 years' experience in a suicide prevention hotline
  • Staff are certified Crisis Intervention Specialists (CCIS I)
  • CWCC Lifeline is embedded in a full-service Community Behavioral Health center and is a Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers (WAMHSAC) member
  • Coordinates follow up with WAMHSAC agencies across the state to ensure appropriate connections to services across Wyoming
  • Services available within CWCC for follow up include: crisis stabilization, social detox, outpatient behavioral health services, substance use disorder services, school-based services, and residential services
  • Works with law enforcement across the state
  • Hosted the following trainings, which were made abailable to all stakeholders across the state: human trafficking, QPR, LGBTQ+ suicide prevention/post-vention, LGBTQ+ safe zone, Safe2Tell, diversity training, and many others
  • Added texting services to the suicide lifeline on 06/01/21
  • Commenced road trip through the entire state promoting suicide awareness within each community to stake holders and law enforcement
  • Seeking collaboration with stakeholders on 988 throughout the state. '

Read More: CWCC Adds Texting Services to Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Currently, according to Bernice, the lifeline operates Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight which, Bernice said, are the hours in which people seek help the most.

Kevin stated that additional funding would be required in order to operate the call center 24/7, which is CWCC's ultimate goal.

"We're talking about a million dollars [each year]," Kevin stated matter-of-factly. "That's about what it would take."

He continued, saying that the Governor does support what CWCC is doing, but that he would like to see even more support in the coming months, depending on Wyoming's budget.

"[The Governor] was very supportive from the beginning," Kevin stated. "Bernice and myself and a couple board members went down [to Cheyenne] and spoke with him about it to advocate for this service and we submitted several different options, whether we started off full-time, 24/7, or we did the hours that we have now. I think all of the money that was available then was for the staff that we have now, but I think there is some support for ramping it up."

The two-year funding for the call center was granted before the state's budget cuts, which means that it's safe for now but funding could be cut in the future.

"There's always concern," Kevin stated. "Especially when cuts everywhere across the state, in every department. We're not immune to that. But the thing to remember is that the people we provide services to are amongst the most vulnerable folks in the population, and if we don't provide these services, things can go sideways for a lot of the people we treat. We want to prevent somebody from getting into a crisis situation.

"We'll keep plugging, we'll keep trying, and we won't be satisfied until we're up and doing this 24/7," he said.

Wyoming residents seeking help may call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or they can text 307-776-0710.

Photo Credit: Sarah Carper, The BARK Firm
Photo Credit: Sarah Carper, The BARK Firm
Photo Credit: Sarah Carper, The BARK Firm
Photo Credit: Sarah Carper, The BARK Firm

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