Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans Works to Prevent Suicide in St. Tammany

Crisis Response Program Observes Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 8-14


Media Contact:
Donna Betzer
Volunteers of America
(o) 504-486-8667 | (c) 504-722-9575

New Orleans, LA (Sept. 4, 2014) – As National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 8-14, 2014) approaches, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans’ Crisis Response Program continues work to prevent suicide in St. Tammany Parish. 

“There has been a reported recent increase in suicides and attempts in St. Tammany parish. During National Suicide Prevention Week we want to remind our first responders, school counselors and emergency room personnel that we are here to help stabilize the uninsured who may be considering taking their own life,” said Rebecca Thees, Volunteers of America Crisis Response Project Director.  “Our approach to crisis response is person centered.  We will work with the individual in crisis to design a stabilization plan with his or her family to establish and achieve goals and ultimately save lives.” 

The Volunteers of America Crisis Response Program, a partnership with St. Tammany Parish government, works year-round to help persons experiencing emotional and mental health difficulties.  The number of calls the Volunteers of America Crisis Response Program receives has increased each year, with over 1,500 calls received from first responders in the last three years.  The program has two components: response to a mental health crisis at the request of first responders and follow-up case management after the immediate crisis has passed. (Please note that in an emergency situation always call 9-1-1, not the Crisis Response Program).

Volunteers of America counselors deploy to a crisis scene and make a recommendation to first responders about a course of treatment, acting as liaisons among first responders, medical personnel and families.  In addition, after care will ensure that families follow through with referrals and services recommended. Those that receive follow-up case management have reduced rates of readmission to the emergency room.

“We met a young man named Mark while he was in the hospital following a suicide attempt.  Our Crisis Response team helped him find a shelter for homeless men and other resources to get back on his feet,” said Thees.  “Now, Mark is thriving and plans to find a job and move into his own home very soon.”

Volunteers of America also serves on the Behavioral Health Task Force for St. Tammany Parish and leads the crisis services workgroup for this task force. The St. Tammany Parish Behavioral 
Task Force consists of government agencies, healthcare providers, consumers, advocacy groups, 
law enforcement, crisis responders and social service agencies partnering to create a recovery-oriented system of care.  

While the Crisis Response Program and the Behavioral Health Task Force serve northshore residents, mental health counseling is available to residents of the southshore through the Volunteers of America Creative Counseling program. 

“Everyone has difficult situations they go though in life whether it is a death, family issue, depression or other major life changes. During these times of high stress and crisis they may need access to confidential family or group counseling,” said Elaine J. Lane, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Counselor Supervisor at Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans.  “Through Creative Counseling Services, we are offering southshore residents support, hope and treatment for whatever situation they may be facing.”

For a non-crisis inquiry for more information about Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans, please call (985) 674-0488 on the northshore, (504) 483-3559 on the southshore 



About Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men returning from prison, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. Our work touches the mind, body, heart-and ultimately the spirit-of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services.