FirstLink's Spring 2022 Newsletter

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April 2022





Silence speaks aloud

Cheers to 2022! While we are only a few months into the year, FirstLink has already seen growth in the number of calls taken. We have handled around 230 more calls per month compared to January and February 2021. In January 2022, we began to ask some callers for their race/ ethnicity for the first time. Tracking this demographic will help FirstLink and area funders get a better understanding of the needs of the community. We are also developing a section of our directory dedicated to youth services—particularly services for youth at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. We are expanding the descriptions of these programs to include more specific details on the population that each program serves and the specific services that are provided. To make finding these resources easier, we have added a keyword search term for Youth Services to our online community directory.

APRIL 28TH 7:15P.M.


Community Directory UPDATE


The FirstLink Film Festival + Competition encourages young people to learn about the topics of suicide prevention and mental health in an innovative way: through storytelling. Learn more and enter today at



A letter from Executive Director


Along with longer days, this season brings hope and transformation. I am ready for the cold winds to turn to warm breezes, and for the gray and white landscape to burst into color.

Just a few days later, we will celebrate the return of FirstLink’s Annual Breakfast! Join us May 5 to hear from guest speakers Elizabeth Medd and Dr. Jon Ulven and view the winning submissions from our inaugural Film Festival + Competition. We have incredible films and speakers lined up for both of these events, and I hope to see you there. Tickets for both events can be purchased at

I am also very excited for two back-to-back events that are coming up quickly. FirstLink is partnering with Tellwell to host our first-ever

Take care and enjoy the sun,

Youth Film Festival + Competition, “Silence Speaks Aloud”. College and high school students are encouraged to create and submit short films focused on raising awareness and ending the stigma around mental health. I invite you to join us to view the submitted films at the Fargo Theater on April 28.

Jennifer Illich

Care and Support


The FirstLink Care and Support Program has undergone staffing changes over the past few months! We have a new Care and Support Coordinator, Sarah; a new Daytime Care and Support Specialist, Kylee; and a new Evening Care and Support Specialist, Sam. Despite having a completely new team, we have quickly found our stride and continue to advocate for and empower our clients through follow-up calls and caring cards. We have already broken records this year, with an average of 158 caring cards sent in comparison to an average of 91 cards sent in 2021. In January and February alone, we have made 2,561 calls and successfully reached 63 percent of them. Of those who were reached, 64 agreed to be in the Care and Support Program. We currently have around 250 active participants in the program and that number has been steadily rising with each passing month.

We look forward to watching the Care and Support Program continue to flourish!

Jennifer Illich Executive Director






Training UPDATES Our 2022 training schedule is well underway! We would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have reached out to us to conduct these trainings. A special thanks to the following organizations:

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Workshop Dates ANNOUNCED FirstLink will once again be offering the two-day suicide intervention workshop, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). ASIST is the world’s leading suicide intervention training program. Updated continually to reflect new knowledge, ASIST has been empowering people to provide skilled, life-saving interventions for over 35 years. Our next ASIST workshop will be in Fargo on June 8 & 9 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Participants will learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive. Register today at

• • •

Fargo Public Schools Moorhead High School Blue Cross Blue Shield Prairie St. Johns Hettinger Area Chamber of Commerce Adams County Development Corporation University of Mary NDSU Extension

In January and February alone, we traveled around the state to conduct 40 trainings, presentations, and booth events. One event we were especially excited to be a part of was the fifth annual ND Suicide Prevention Coalition Conference. FirstLink provided our 2-1-1 University to both the in-person attendees and online guests with a combined attendance of over 300 people. We have also completed our Suicide Education Outreach with several 7th grade classes in Fargo and we’re thankful for the students’ questions and attention. We currently have multiple trainings scheduled for 2022 and can’t wait for all the opportunities to connect with those in North Dakota and Minnesota!

Staff UPDATES Hello everyone! My name is Hannah and I’m currently doing an internship at FirstLink for my social work program. I will graduate in May from NDSU and MSU with a dual degree in Social Work and Human Development and Family Science and a minor in Psychology. I’m currently applying to graduate schools in the hope that one day I will be able to do clinical social work. I love working with everyone here at FirstLink and being able to help people through hard times in their lives. So far, I’ve been able to work as a call specialist, observe and be a part of suicide education outreach presentations, and work with our Care and Support Team to help them with calls.

Along with those tasks, I’ve been working on our social media! My goal is to get more followers and for more people to engage with the social media itself and the events we promote there. Two social media initiatives we have started are Wellness Wednesdays and Self-Care Sundays. For Wellness Wednesdays, we will focus on SAMHSA’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness. This includes physical, emotional, social, environmental, intellectual, financial, spiritual, and occupational wellbeing. For Self-care Sundays, we are focusing on a new self-care activity each week. We are hoping to educate our followers about the importance of activities such as resting, stretching, and reconnecting with yourself. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

4357 13th Ave S # 107L, Fargo, ND 58103


13th ann ual

YOU’ R E INVITED May 5 , 2022 8:00 am - 10:00 am th

hos ted by



Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo Join us for a delicious breakfast and moving conversation with guest speakers Elizabeth Medd and Dr. Jon Ulven on the topic of youth suicide. Cost to attend is $20. Register today by scanning the QR code below or by visiting


Suicide awareness advocate & mother of Liam

DR. JON ULVEN Psychologist at Sanford Health