MINOT, N.D. — Do you know what FirstLink is?
If you’d asked me that question before our interview on this episode of Plain Talk with Jennifer Illich, the executive director of the group, my answer would have been … sort of?
I knew FirstLink existed. I knew it handled calls from people in distress. I mostly thought of it as a suicide hotline.
What I learned during our interview is that this group is doing profound work. In 2022, they handled 85,681 contacts to their 211 and 988 hotlines from people in crisis in various ways, from needing to be connected with assistance programs because they can’t pay their heating bill to people who need emergency intervention because they’re on the verge of suicide.