Suicide and crisis response numbers climbing in Southern Idaho

Twin Falls County Sheriff’s office says response calls in the past 6 weeks are double the same time last year.
Published: Dec. 17, 2022 at 10:42 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — In the past six weeks, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 80 calls for people in mental health crises, and when you combine that with the responses in the city it gets even more devastating.

“Talking over 120 people in, you know, direct crisis that police responded to,” says Lori Stewart of Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

Even more troubling than the high volume of calls, which is about double what it was a year ago, is the most common demographic.

“I know that we’re seeing more and more with teenagers,” Stewart says, “that’s a huge concern right now.”

For Twin Falls resident Tracey Parsons, every story she hears about someone taking their life hits home.

In 2019, she lost her sister, Sydney, to the same devastating fate.

“Sydney was a vibrant, beautiful, loving, fun, always laughing,” said Parsons, “looked like she had the world at her fingertips.”

From the outside, Sidney seemed the last person who would succumb to the ill effects of a mental health crisis.

But Parsons says that’s too often the story.

“Suicide is not talked about; people don’t talk about mental health,” Parsons said. “I think in the last few years it becoming more and more on the forefront, which is such an incredible thing because it needs to be talked about.”

So, in the years that followed she has taken it upon herself to share her story of tragedy in the hopes it reaches the right ears.

“If my story, my sister’s story, can save one person,” Parsons said, “if it can help one person then it brings some sunshine into this hard road we’ve been on.”

Parsons is far from alone in this effort. Many Magic Valley organizations, like Love Yourself and Magic Valley Suicide Awareness and Prevention, are offering resources to those battling with their own mental health.

“The whole premise is to try to develop skills in ourselves and in helping and encouraging others to develop the skills within ourselves to show forth the love and to treat ourselves the way we would want to treat a dear friend,” said Blake Gardner of Love Yourself.

Gardner, who lost his son to suicide, started Love Yourself to share his family’s story, saying we need to work together to stop the pain that suicide spreads.

Gardner says, “let’s help each other with the hurt before we spread the hurt.”

If you, or someone you know is struggling with mental health, call the new suicide prevention hotline, 988.