Saturday, December 9, 2023

New 988 suicide and crisis lifeline makes it easier to get help quick

Earlier this month, the U.S. transitioned the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from a 10-digit number to 988, an easier-to-remember number for 24/7 crisis care.

The lifeline, which also links to the Veterans Crisis Line, follows a three-year joint effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to put crisis care more in reach for people in need, according to a news release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Denton County MHMR hotline, 940-762-0157, and the 10-digit national hotline will stay in effect, but the new 988 line will be easier for people in a crisis situation to call and get help, said Pam Gutierrez, COO of the Denton County MHMR Center.

When you call 988 from Denton County, you’ll be connected to counselors based in Tarrant County, in one of five 988 hubs in Texas.

“They will be helped with any kind of crisis situation,” Gutierrez said. “A mobile crisis team might be dispatched to help a suicidal person, but other times you might just need someone to talk to, so it depends on situation … Talking through issues, if they’re experiencing anxiety or seeking help with a mental health issue, they can call and learn where to get the best help.”

The 988 line transition took place on July 16, and in less than a week, 988 counselors answer 23,000 more calls, texts and chats that they had the week before, according to SAMHSA.

Gutierrez said the 988 line is crucial because many people in the area, “especially right now, are struggling.”

“It’s suicide prevention, it’s literally a lifeline,” she said.

For more information about 988, click here.

For more information about Denton County MHMR, click here.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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