Abrahams: A Milestone in Suicide Prevention Efforts

If you are having suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, or any other type of mental health crisis, you are not alone. You matter more than you think – and there are trained, compassionate professionals out there who want to help you through these difficult times. By calling or texting 988, you can take the first step towards getting the help you deserve.

On July 16 of this year, 988 became the three-digit US number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. People who call or text 988 are connected to a trained crisis counselor who can connect them to vital resources and life-saving support. Interpretation services are available in over 150 languages ​​and an online chat service is available at 988lifeline.org.

Since its inception in 2005, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has grown into a network of more than 200 crisis centers for Americans in mental health crisis. In 2017, rapper Logic’s mighty hit single “1-800-273-8255” — Lifeline’s mainline at the time — garnered international attention for this much-needed resource and helped spark National Suicide. Prevention Lifeline a household name.

Five years later, America now has a 911 equivalent for mental health emergencies, and it’s an important reflection of how the discussion continues to migrate to a place of greater openness, acceptance, and effectiveness. Statistics cited in a recent New York Times report indicate that 80% of calls can be resolved without further intervention by a mobile crisis team or mental health care facility. It’s also important to note how redirecting mental health crisis calls to a specialized, easy-to-remember mental health line can help improve outcomes for anyone seeking help through 988 and 911.

While we’ve come a long way from when muffled conversations about mental health and addiction were stifled by overwhelming shame and stigma, we still have a lot of work to do and challenges to overcome. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death for Americans of all ages in 2020; among young people aged 10 to 14 and people aged 25 to 34, it was the second leading cause of death.

These are shocking statistics that need to make us all pause, reassess, and recommit to saving lives in Nassau County and across our nation. In the months and years to come, Nassau County has a duty to support 988 and the innovations that will follow in its wake with the resources necessary to reach their full lifesaving potential.

Kevan M. Abrahams of Freeport represents the First Legislative District and is the Minority Caucus Leader of the Nassau County Legislative Assembly.