In Emotional Distress or a Suicidal Crisis? Dial 9-8-8

National Suicide Prevention Month may be ending on September 30, but the need to support people experiencing a mental health crisis is more urgent than ever.

After a dip in 2019 and 2020, the suicide rate in the United States increased nearly 4 percent in 2021—47,646 deaths, up from 45,979 in 2020, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The rate for people age 15-24 rose 7 percent. Overall suicide rates have risen more than 30 percent in the past two decades.

Some good news: Seeking help became easier in 2022, with the introduction of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 988 has been designated as a new three-digit dialing code, similar to the simple-to-remember public safety hotline number 911.

The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States. You can also connect to the Lifeline if you are concerned about a loved one, friend, or colleague.

988 calls go to into a nearby crisis center, one of 200 across the country. When people call or text 988, or connect to chat online, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the Lifeline network. Trained counselors listen, understand how the caller’s problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

NOTE: The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

Ithaca’s 53-year-old Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service has long been part of the Lifeline network. Its trained counselors can also be reached by dialing 607-272-1616.

The Lifeline has been proven to be effective. According to its administrator, numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor. Calls to the Lifeline have soared 45 percent since 988 was introduced in July.

The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health.

Warning Signs for Suicide

Take a moment to review the warning signs for suicide, as provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Be sure to get help for yourself or others if you see the signs. You may save a life.

According to AFSP, something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Warning sign: Talk

If a person talks about:

Killing themselves

Feeling hopeless

Having no reason to live

Being a burden to others

Feeling trapped

Unbearable pain

Warning sign: Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs

Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

Withdrawing from activities

Isolating from family and friends

Sleeping too much or too little

Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

Giving away prized possessions



Warning sign: Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:



Loss of interest




Relief/Sudden Improvement

For more local, state, and national resources, visit The Sophie Fund’s suicide prevention page.

Be Safe at College!

A dark and often hidden side of student life is the prevalence of sexual assault. Know the resources for keeping yourself and others safe, supporting victims, and holding perpetrators accountable.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence. Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:


Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Free, confidential, local support and advocacy for survivors, friends, and families around domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Office (607) 277-3203

Instagram: @advocacytc

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline 24/7 (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English)

Online (en español)

Instagram: @rainnn


Sexual Violence Prevention Network (Cornell University)

Student organization helps victims and survivors and promotes equity in relationships through events, campaigns, and partnerships.

Instagram: @svpn_cu

IC Strike (Ithaca College)

Student organization dedicated to education, activism, tangible change,and allyship for survivors of sexual assault and violence.

Instagram: @icstrike


911 Ithaca Police Assistance

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3333

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

A Month for Kindness

Kindness is Coming to Tompkins County in October! United in Kindness is a diverse series of events organized by the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force and aligned with National Bullying Prevention Month.

The events range from a student contest promoting kindness, a free showing of the film Wonder at Cinemapolis, and Stories in the Park for under-6s, to expert presentations on keeping kids safe on social media and dealing with domestic violence experiences.

The Student Kindness and Creativity Contest, sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County, invites local K-12 students to enter written word, visual art, or video submissions with a deadline of October 10.

The contest will be judged by United Way’s Youth and Philanthropy Program students. Prizes will be awarded and all entries will be featured at a Gallery Event at United Way’s headquarters at 313 N Aurora Street on October 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contest information available at:

“United Way is happy to support this year’s contest and the United In Kindness series because of the connection to youth and mental health, two key areas supported by our organization,” said Gregg Houck, United Way’s Director of Community Impact.

“In a time of so much division, having the opportunity to promote unity in our shared humanity and the importance of being kind to one another through this contest and gallery event is so meaningful. United Way looks forward to sharing these student creations with the community.”

The series was organized by the Bullying Prevention Task Force’s Brandi Remington, Youth Development Coordinator at TST BOCES.

“This series brings kindness back to the forefront as our community continues to heal from the aftermath of COVID-19,” said Remington. “National Bullying Prevention Month aims to bring awareness to the very serious issue of bullying in our schools and community. We recognize the problem, just as we recognize that one of the solutions is to celebrate empathy, inclusion, and connectedness. We are excited to bring attention to all of the great work being done in Tompkins County to build a community united in kindness.”

Student Kindness and Creativity Contest 9/19 through 10/10

Sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County

Tompkins County K-12 students can enter their written word, visual art, or video submissions until 10/10. All entries will be featured at a

Gallery Event @ United Way 313 N Aurora Street on 10/28 4-7 pm.

We’ve Got Your Back 10/1 @ 12-3 p.m.

Mental Health Association Peer Outreach Center @ Center Ithaca

Live music, activities, finger foods, speakers and more! Learn how we can support one another by stepping in and calling out bullying behaviors.

Free Hugs @ Apple Harvest Festival 10/1 @ 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In and Around the Ithaca Commons

Free Hugs Ithaca and Be Kind Ithaca team up to give away t-shirts and iconic Be Kind hearts—and actual hugs—to dozens of lucky Apple Fest attendees.

Mothering Through Domestic Violence 10/5 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at:

Join the Coalition for Families and Lyn Staack from the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County for a community presentation. Understand the challenges faced by people who grew up in homes where there was domestic violence and how it may impact their adult relationships and parenting.

Screening of Wonder 10/11 @ 7-9 p.m.

@ Cinemapolis—Free Admission sponsored by Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca and The Sophie Fund

Watch an uplifting film for all ages about empathy and acceptance telling the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade to attend mainstream elementary school for the first time.

7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest 10/15 @ 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Bernie Milton Pavilion, submissions from 10–11:30 am; Info on how to enter at:

Stories in the Park 10/18 & 10/22 @ 11:30 a.m.–12 Noon

Dewitt Park, or Tompkins County Public Library if raining  

Children 6 and under and their families will be delighted by a selection of stories based on the themes of kindness, inclusivity, and diversity.

Digital Intelligence and Well-Being for Parents 10/19 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at:

Join a symposium for parents about online safety for their children presented by social media expert Chris Vollum.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters Match Event 10/21 @ 4-7 p.m.

Event open to Big Brothers, Big Sisters participants only

Participants will carve pumpkins and decorate cookies while they share stories about people in their life who demonstrate and embody kindness. To learn more about how you can be a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, go to:

For more details about United in Kindness events, go to:

Walk for Our Lives

Some 300 participants raised more than $60,000 in the 10th Annual Greater Ithaca Out of the Darkness Walk on September 10 organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater Central New York Chapter.

Ithaca Out of the Darkness Walk at Myers Park

The walk, which took place in Myers Park in Lansing on the edge of Cayuga Lake, is among 400 or so held across the country every year designed to raise awareness and collect funds for research, training, and programming. The walkers included many people who lost a loved one, friend, or colleague to suicide.

This year’s Greater Ithaca walk was held on World Suicide Prevention Day. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The event surpassed the chapter’s $55,000 goal by more than $5,000.

To add a donation, click here

“Suicide is preventable, and suicide prevention begins with all of us,” event Co-Chair Crystal Howser said in remarks at the event.

“By showing up today, you are sending the message that mental health is as real as physical health,” she added. “You are sending the message that reaching out for help is the strong thing to do. You are showing others that suicide can no longer be swept under the rug.

“By showing up, you let others know they are not alone. Because of you, we can fight for a day when no one will die by suicide.”

Event Co-Chairs Crystal Howser and Amber Parker

Howser shared that she began her journey after losing her father to suicide in 1998, and has lost other loved ones since then.

“These are just a few of the reasons I will continue to fight, to give a voice to those that may have lost their own, to help those that have lost a loved one heal, and bring hope to each and every person I meet along the way,” Howser said.

She said that the walkers honored the memory of those lost to suicide. “I also want to acknowledge those of you who have suffered personally from suicidal thoughts,” she added. “We are so glad to have you here with us in this fight. Your presence and openness allow others to know they are not alone in their struggle.”

To volunteer with AFSP, click here

This year’s walk included teams from Maguire Automotive, Alpha Gamma Rho at Cornell University, Ithaca College Women’s Lacrosse, SVNTA National Honor Society, CrossFit Vertical, among others.

The walk was sponsored by:

CFCU Community Credit Union; The Strebel Planning Group’s Strebel Fund for Community Enrichment; Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Maguire Automotive; BorgWarner Inc.; Northeast Pizza and Bones; Ithaca Apartment Management/Solomon Organization LLC; Moore Family Farm; Cayuga Medical Center; Visions Federal Credit Union; Lansing Funeral Home; Cayuga Lake National Bank; Tioga State Bank Foundation; and Ongweoweh Corp.

Photo credit: Courtesy BrehmStone Photography

Fostering Connection, Preventing Suicide

The New York State Suicide Prevention Center’s 2022 conference, “Fostering Connection Across The Lifespan,” brings together 36 leading experts September 20-22 to discuss the importance of social connectedness for mental health.

“A large volume of research with diverse populations and age groups shows that social connectedness is one of the most important factors in determining not only our mental health, but also our physical health,” according to the Suicide Prevention Center’s announcement.

The center said that the conference experts will summarize the latest prevention science and explain why we should all be more focused on supporting social connection across the lifespan—from early childhood and adolescence through our working and older-age years.

“Participants will be able to take ideas showcased in the conference back to their diverse communities and begin or build on existing work aimed at supporting healthy social connection,” the center said.

Physicians, social workers, mental health counselors, peers, psychologists can receive CEU credits and CASACs for many of the sessions.

September 20, 2022

Making the Case for Connection & Innovative Models for At-Risk Groups

“Leveraging Community Engagement to Promote Mental Health Equity and Connection Across the Lifespan”

Sidney Hankerson, MD, MBA

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Director, Mental Health Equity Research, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

“What matters most in health and happiness? Insights from the Harvard Longitudinal Study”

Robert Waldinger, MD

Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

“iGen: Understanding the mental health risks of Gen Z”

Jean Twenge, PhD

Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University

“Social Isolation and Loneliness as Risk Factors for Early Mortality; and Social Connection as a Protective Factor: What the Latest Science Tells Us” (Keynote)

Julianne Holt-Lundstadt, PhD

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University

“Innovative Models for at-risk populations: Exploring the unique and common elements of these community engagement models” (Round Table Discussion)

September 21, 2022

Connection Across the Lifespan

“We Are the Medicine: Building Relational Systems of Care to Take Positive Childhood Experiences to Scale”

Christina Bethell, PhD, MPH, MBA

Professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University & Director of the Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative

“Social and School Connectedness: Key Contributors to Adolescent Mental Health and Suicide Risk” (Keynote)

Cheryl King, PhD

Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Youth Depression and Suicide Prevention Program at the University of Michigan

“Working Minds: Why Peer Support Matters for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion at Work”

Sally Spencer-Thomas

President of United Suicide Survivors International, clinical psychologist, inspirational international speaker and impact entrepreneur

Jose Ballejo

UA VIP instructor/BTJ Pipefitter, retired U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class, and member of UA Local 58

“Connecting and Contributing: AmeriCorps Seniors Service as Upstream Suicide Prevention for Older Adults”

Kim Van Orden, PhD

Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Atalaya Sergi

Director, Americorps Seniors

Mary Hyde, PhD

Director, Office of Research and Evaluation AmeriCorps

“DBT STEPS-A: A school-based social emotional learning program for adolescents in Central New York & Brooklyn”

James Mazza, PhD | Elizabeth Dexter-Mazza, PhD | Alexandra Hernandez | Jacklyn Beck

“Inspiring Comfort: A skills program for compassionate connecting”

Jen Marr | Taylor Walls

“HealthySteps NY: An early childhood development support program for families that is expanding statewide”

Hetal Tangal, MD | Allison Lieber, LCSW | David Beguin, MD, PhD | Laura Sigel | Marcia Rice, RN, MS

“Connection Planning: A workshop for mental health clinicians working with socially isolated/lonely clients”

Kim Van Orden, PhD

September 22, 2022

Community-level Connection & Stories of Hope from Attempt Survivors

“Connect: A social network health suicide prevention program”

Peter Wyman

Professor and Director of the School and Community-Based Prevention Laboratory at the University of Rochester

Anthony R. Pisani, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics

Bryan Yates, B.A

Senior Human Subjects Research Coordinator Department of Psychiatry University of Rochester School of Medicine

Chelsea Keller Elliott, MS, LMFT

Senior Research – Prevention Specialist University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

“Embedding social relations and community into primary care—A population approach” (Keynote)

Helen Kingston, MD

Primary care physician at Frome Medical Practice in Frome, Somerset, England

“Real stories of hope and connection from suicide attempt survivors”

Tony Trahan (Moderator)

Deputy Director of the New York State Office of Consumer Affairs

Dillon Browne, LMSW

Licensed social worker, coordinating daily operations for MHA Westchester’s Sterling Community Center

Emily Childress, MPA, CPS-P

Network Manager for Wellness Collaborative of NY IPA

Jeff McQueen, MBA, LCDC

Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Nassau County

Digna Quinones

Regional Advocacy Specialist, New York State Office of Mental Health – Office of Consumer Affairs