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Summertime heat can lead to increase in suicides; Missouri offers year-round mental health resources

Summertime heat can lead to increase in suicides; Missouri offers year-round mental health resources

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) – Although many people believe the winter holidays are the worst time for mental health challenges, the Centers for Disease Control said summer is actually when the United States sees an increase in suicides.

Several studies have shown a link to the hot weather and deaths by suicide, according to Corewell Health. Missouri offers resources for those facing mental health challenges year-round. The 988 hotline launched in 2022 is a centralized resource for Missourians to get access to help for any problem, or even just have someone to talk to.

Data from the Missouri Department of Mental Health shows the demand for mental health services is increasing. From May 2023 to May of this year, 988 calls increased by over 2,000 calls per month.

Missouri’s 988 providers answer a majority of the calls; 94 percent of Missourians’ 988 calls are answered in-state, and calls are typically answered in 17 seconds or less, according to data from the Department of Mental Health. Calls not answered in the state are transferred to the national hotline.

Kristie Morton’s son Hunter died by suicide in 2022.

“That’s the one thing I miss the most, is his love that he gave to everybody. When he held onto you, you knew it,” Morton said. “He told all of his friends, and his friends even came to us after he passed that he was their hype person.”

Ever since Hunter’s passing, Morton devoted her time to making sure other parents don’t experience her pain. Morton founded You Matter, Archie to shower the kids and teens in her small, rural community with affection and show them that there is always someone there for them.

“I got a hold of a bunch of moms here in our community and said, ‘I think we need to do something.’ And they said, ‘All right, what are we going to do,’” Morton said.

Morton is a big supporter of the 988 hotline, and said she even called it herself when it was first put into place to see how it can help.

“I called it myself, and I said, ‘All right, we’re going to do this and see what they say,’” Morton said. “I was on the phone for 45 minutes with a lady, and she went through step by step what is to happen if somebody was to call 988, which I thought was amazing as a parent.”

The state continues to fund the 988 hotline; over $3 million was allocated for crisis response teams and equipment in the 2025 fiscal year budget.

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