988 Mental Health Crisis prevention Hotline by milagro delgado huerta
Every moment counts when a person asks for help in the face of a mental or suicidal crisis. This new three-digit “988” Line is now available to everyone in the United States.
In mid-July, the Alaska Department of Health launched the operation of the direct dial code “988,” a new resource for mental health crises.
This emergency number offers free and confidential access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is monitored by professionals trained in helping those who experience mental health distress, which can include thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crises, or any other type of emotional distress.
988 aims to help people of all ages, including non-English speakers, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, who are experiencing a mental health crisis of any kind, not just those who have suicidal thoughts. Also, veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.
People can call or text 988 or chat at 988 lifeline.org if they are concerned about a loved one who may need support in a crisis. John Draper, executive director of Lifeline, said, “It’s a new number, but it’s not a new service.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explained that activating the new hotline is “a critical and innovative step,” as millions of Americans are affected by different mental illnesses. According to the Alaska Department of Health, in 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 19. Similarly, the Center for Disease Control reported that Alaska has the second highest suicide rate in the entire country.
In other statistics, about 25% of callers on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline experience “some kind of suicidal crisis,” while the additional 75% “are in great emotional distress,” according to Lifeline executive director, John Draper.
The new line is an Alternative to 911 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline) is intended to provide faster care, relieve emergency rooms, and encourage people to seek help sooner. It also aims to lessen the burden on 911 and provide an alternative for those who fear involving police during a mental health crisis, which sometimes ends up in regrettable outcomes.
The 988 represents an excellent alternative for Alaskans, who expressed their satisfaction with having the new number, which since July 16, has been available to the community. For more information about the 988 in Alaska, you can visit https://health.alaska.gov/dbh/Pages/Prevention/988/default.aspx.
Careline’s mental crisis emergency number at 877-266-HELP will continue to be available to people in Alaska. Finally, the nonprofit that operates the 988 National Suicide Prevention Hotline plans to launch a pilot program for calls from the LGBTQ community soon. People interested in learning more can visit the www.samhsa.gov.
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