News & Press

Local suicide hotline operates 24/7

January 30, 2017


Local suicide hotline operates 24/7

By Robert Lathers, LMSW
The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness

I was very pleased to read Ionia Public Schools Superintendent Ron Wilson’s column, “Know the warning signs of depression and suicide,” last week in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. He shared the story of how a Good Samaritan he knew had helped someone who lost a child to suicide. He shares in his editorial the telephone number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, and concludes that, “Together we can make a difference in the lives of our students and community.”

He could not be more right. Schools are most always the frontline to identifying signs of trouble in students who are at risk.

In addition to the resources Mr. Wilson points out in his excellent article, there are also local resources to address depression and suicide threats. The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness employs a full-time psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, several registered nurses, and more than 30 therapists to assist community residents in need of emotional interventions and support. The Right Door also maintains a 24-hour crisis telephone line, which is always answered by a trained person, 365 days a year. No machines, no voicemail. An actual person answers the phone in order to help anyone who is contemplating suicide. It is paid 100 percent by your federal and state tax dollars. Everyone in the community is eligible to use it. That number is 1-888-527-1790.

But that’s not all. The Right Door also has a highly trained team of professionals that will go to wherever the person is, including our local hospitals, to intervene and assist with making plans to keep the person safe. Even better is the fact that a family member can call us and we will respond. Our commitment is to provide “immediate interventions” to assist the person who is at risk. This may include hospitalization in a psychiatric facility, but most of the time the result is helping the person make a solid plan to be safe. Frequently, the person will then meet with one of our therapists on the same day, or with The Right Door’s psychiatrist on the next day, for follow-up.

Our community and schools can do a lot to identify and help a person who is at risk of suicide. The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness regularly offers “Mental Health First Aid” classes to the community. Think of it as CPR for persons in emotional distress. There are two types of classes offered. One focuses on Mental Health First Aid for Adults and the other is Mental Health First Aid for Children and Adolescents. This is a nationally recognized program and The Right Door has several staff certified to teach it. Consider inviting us into your workplace to teach your employees how to intervene in a serious emotional crisis. Several businesses have already done this. There is no charge. Or call our office at 616-527-1790 and sign up individually for the next class. It is also free. The only cost to you is your time.

Together we can make a difference and, who knows? Maybe you, too, will have a chance to become someone’s Good Samaritan and help save their life.

Robert Lathers, LMSW, is the CEO of The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness, formerly Ionia County Community Mental Health. His email address is He welcomes your comments and questions. If you have a mental health emergency, call 911 or our 24-hour crisis line at 1-888- 527-1790. Visit The Right Door online at and find us on Facebook. The Right Door in Ionia is now open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.