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Widowed Mom Reflects On How Husband’s Death Could Have Been Prevented By New Suicide Prevention Hotline

Photo: Twitter
Cora Williams with her late husband, Jerome Williams, and their four children.

In the wake of the launch of a new suicide prevention emergency hotline, a Nevada mother is recalling her husband’s fatal mental health and his struggles to access help.

Cora Williams spoke with KSNV, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, about her late husband Jerome’s personal struggles.

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“He sent me a text message that said to tell the kids he loved them and that he was sorry,” Cora said.

Jerome took his own life and burned down their house on July 7. 

Cora received photos from her husband showing their house set ablaze. As a result, Cora and her four children, ages 9, 6, 2 and 9 months, had to move in with her parents following the tragedy. 

Rather than feeling anger towards her late husband, Cora is lamenting on what drove him to such a point.

“I want to be angry, and I’m sure one day I might be, but right now, I just feel sad, and I feel the loss, and I just wish he was here because I miss him,” Cora said.

Jerome’s tragedy comes at a time when mental health awareness is reaching new heights.

Advocates across the United States are making strides to make mental health more accessible. Cora hopes that stories like hers can inspire more people to seek the help they need. 

“There are always options,” Cora said. “There’s always more that you can do, and everybody just wants that opportunity to help you.”

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Cora revealed that her husband struggled for years with his mental health before tragically taking his own life. She says that the lack of resources and support from his family played a part in his personal experiences.

“He was also really raised in a place where that was stigmatized that he needed to be the strong man that didn’t have any weaknesses that didn’t reach out for help, and I wish he would have,” Cora said.

The latest change to make mental health resources more accessible is changing the national suicide hotline, creating a new number that will be easily memorable for those who need it.

The new suicide hotline number is 988.

The number will not replace the previous line, 1800-273-8255, but will make it easier to access in emergencies. 

“It’s now going from a 10-digit number that's challenging to remember, especially in a crisis, to a three-digit 988 Number,” Nevada suicide prevention coordinator Misty Vaughn Allen said. “The purpose is to pull behavioral health, mental health, and suicide crises away from 911.”

While many see the new hotline number as a step in the right direction, others are raising concerns about its intricacies.

Benjamin F. Miller, a psychologist and president of the mental health foundation Well Being Trust, is worried that funding for the new initiative won’t last. He holds these concerns because he believes mental health has always been an “afterthought” in America.

“I think 988 represents the best and worst of how America approaches mental health,” Miller told the New York Times. “At its best, it’s the ingenuity, the creativity, the positioning. At its worst, it’s the lack of resources, the lack of leadership and follow-through.”

“It’s the marginalized aspect of our health care that we continue to avoid investing robustly in.”

A GoFundMe is available to help Cora cover costs for the home, funeral, burial and replacing items the kids lost in the fire. The initiative is at just over $32,000 of its $100,000 goal.

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Jonathan Alfano is a writer who focuses on news and entertainment topics. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his content.

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