The local suicide prevention hotline has consolidated its efforts with the Bridge Center, an organization which helps people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

“This is a big win for Baton Rouge. For many years now, nonprofits in our area have been struggling to maintain their operations with the limited dollars available for such efforts," said Gary Littlefield, board president of the Crisis Intervention Center, which operates The Phone, a suicide prevention hotline.

The hotline was established in 1970 following a string of suicides by LSU students. The Bridge Center has taken over The Phone's operations, but the 24/7 number is the same: (225) 924-3900.

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Leaders of both organizations hope the new arrangement will help them collaborate and pool resources. The Bridge Center, created by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, sought a tax in 2016. It was to build a center where police could take people who were disruptive or possibly dangerous but needed mental health treatment, not jail or an emergency room.

The measure failed, but the organization is continuing to  work with court officials to direct inmates to community services rather than languishing in the parish prison.

"We have been meeting with service providers to discover where we could improve the model, increase efficiencies and consolidate competing efforts. When we engaged with the Crisis Intervention Center we quickly concluded that a crisis contact center such as theirs, with a strong history and reputation for quality, is the critical entry point for those individuals in a crisis," wrote Bridge Center Chairwoman Kathy Kliebert.

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