The Operations Director for a Cheyenne-based suicide prevention group says a statewide effort is underway to raise money for suicide prevention efforts in light of a cut in funding to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

Rihanna Brand of ''Grace for Two Brothers" says among the budget cuts implemented by state lawmakers in light of declining revenues earlier this year was a $2.1 million cut to WDH suicide prevention programs. Brand says that money went to county suicide prevention programs around the state, as well as efforts to combat substance abuse and related issues.

Brand says that while help for potential suicide victims is still available (including suicide prevention counseling that is available through a statewide hotline and by phone texting), the phone crisis line may be answered by someone is any of 13 suicide prevention centers across the nation, and callers may be put on hold.

She says that is because Wyoming is one of the few states without a statewide crisis call center located within its borders. She says that while organizations such as her's have been working for a decade to get such a crisis line in place, the funding cuts mean state money won't be available for that and other suicide programs right now.

But she says in an effort to make up for the funding cuts, suicide prevention groups have launched a private fundraising drive with Wyoming Taco John's and Jonah Bank outlets. Brand says through the month of May, anyone who visits one of those businesses in Wyoming can make a donation to local suicide prevention efforts, adding the idea is not just to raise money for a crisis call center but all types of suicide prevention programs.

She says all of the money will be used locally so that if someone donates at a Taco John's in Sheridan, the money will be used for suicide prevention programs in the Sheridan area. Brand says businesses that will be raising money for suicide prevention will probably change on a month-by-month basis, so further announcements will be made in coming months about where donations can be made.

Brand is also reminding people who may be considering suicide that toll-free help is available by calling 1-800-273-8255 24/7. Wyoming residents can also get help via text by texting "Wyo" to 741741 24/7.

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