‘I want people to continue life’: Wichita man hopes 3-digit suicide hotline will encourage people to reach out for help

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “That’s the day that changed my life forever,” said Bob Polk.

Oct. 21, 2015, is a day Bob Polk will never forget. It’s the day he lost his 26-year-old son Matthew to suicide.

“He was a compassionate person. He was always there to help others but he didn’t know how to get help himself,” said Polk.

Just this week, the FCC unanimously approved changing the National Suicide Hotline to a three-digit number, 988. Suicide awareness advocates believe the shorter number will make it easier for people to reach out for help.

“It has a real 911 ring to it. It really underscores the emergency aspect of suicide ability to get help right away,” said Bailey Blair, Vice President of Stop Suicide ICT.

There’s a three month comment period before the number is implemented.
Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group facilitator Jim Yoder is encouraging people to give their input.

“With not only approving that they should set up this number but that they need to make sure they provide the adequate funding for the expected increase and resources necessary for the call increase,” he said.

Polk says his new purpose is to give his son’s life new meaning by encouraging others to not give up.

“My son put himself in a place of darkness and he gave up hope for life and that’s what I don’t want for others. I want people to continue life,” he said.

Until the 3-digit number goes into effect, you can get help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or the crisis text line at 741-741.

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