What is the Kristin Brooks Hope Centre?

Introduction

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center (KBHC), a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was founded on 20 May 1998, by H. Reese Butler II after the death of his wife, Kristin Brooks Rossell Butler, who died by suicide in 1998.

Realising an urgency in this high profile public health crisis, which kills more than 34,000 Americans per year, KBHC was founded by her survivor with funds from the death benefit provided by her employer. Kristin suffered severe postpartum psychosis (PPP) after losing her unborn child on 05 December 1997. Her struggle with PPP was brought on by the prescription drug Zoloft which resulted in an SSRI syndrome. KBHC is more commonly known as the creator of the first network of suicide hotlines in the United States networked under the toll free number 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

Brief History

H. Reese Butler II started the Kristin Brooks Hope Centre after he received a check from his wife’s employer which was a death benefit amounting to one years salary. The amount was $34,017. Reese decided to donate the money to an organisation focused on preventing suicide as a result of postpartum depression or psychosis. Upon learning there was no such organisation in 1998 he decided donate it to an organisation that ran a national suicide hotline for people in crisis. Upon learning that in 1998 there was no national suicide hotline linking the more than 800 community based suicide crisis hotlines he founded the Kristin Brooks Hope Centre and began linking those community crisis hotlines through 1-888-SUICIDE (784-2433). 1-888-SUICIDE and 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) were both part of the National Hopeline Network from its activation 16 September 1998, until the FCC temporarily reassigned it in January 2006. The US Surgeon General David Satcher dedicated 1-888-SUICIDE (784-2433) on 07 May 1999, during a press conference organised by H. Reese Butler II. The event was filmed by Dempsey Rice, a Brooklyn based filmmaker (Daughter One Productions), for a project she was working on for HBO. The press event wrapped up with Jock Bartley, founding member of Firefall, singing “Call On Me” written for a 1998 compilation CD to benefit the Colorado based Pikes Peak Mental Health Crisis Centre. Bartley introduced H. Reese Butler II to Jonathan Cain of Journey with the hopes of creating a benefit concert to pay the phone bill for 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). The concert took place on 12 November 1999, at the Warfield in San Francisco. It was called “Reason to Live” and featured Firefall as the opening act with Journey headlining. Bev Cobain, cousin to Kurt Cobain and author of the book “When Nothing Matters Anymore” was the Master of Ceremonies for the concert.

HELP Grant

During the three year federal grant known as the HELP Project, two separate studies to determine the effectiveness of suicide hotlines were conducted using 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) to conduct the evaluations. In the credits for the Mishara led study he specifically thanks Reese Butler, the Kristin Brooks Hope Centre staff, Jerry Reed, and the Directors and helpers at the crisis centres who participated in this study.

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