Fargo  (Farmers Union Insurance)   – FirstLink, which maintains the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for the state of North Dakota, announced Tuesday that Farmers Union Insurance (FUI) has donated $20,000 to help the nonprofit continue its services to North Dakotans who are at risk of suicide.

“Research has shown that our services prevent suicide,” said Cindy Miller, executive director of FirstLink. “Because of the increased volume of calls we’re receiving, we need additional staff to support a second phone line and funding to maintain a callback service to at-risk callers. This donation is really a lifeline of sorts for us.”

Miller said calls to their 2-1-1 suicide helpline and national lifeline have increased dramatically in recent years. Suicide related calls in 2016 were 2,512 compared to 6,533 in 2017, and follow-up calls increased from 1,150 in 2016 to 4,810 last year.

“There aren’t a lot of people who haven’t been affected by suicide, whether it’s a family member or someone in their community,” said Kevin Ressler, FUI chief sales, marketing & branding officer. “There is a lot of stress right now in farm country. This donation melds the mission of our company and our farm organization. Both are focused on community support. FirstLink is local people helping local people.”

To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, dial 1-800-273-TALK. Along with providing 24-hour crisis intervention, a FirstLink staff member can direct callers to community resources for emergency safe shelters, support groups, addictions, food assistance, financial housing and utility assistance, disaster assistance, counseling and mental health support.