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DHHR Receives Federal Funding to Switch to 988 for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WHSV) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau of Behavioral Health (BBH) has won a $561,131 award from the Federal Services Administration addiction and mental health to prepare for the transition of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a new three-digit number (988) on July 16, 2022.

West Virginia is one of 54 states and territories to receive a federal grant. BBH funds West Virginia’s only National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center, operated by First Choice Services, to answer in-state calls to Lifeline, including the Veterans Crisis Line.

On July 16, 2022, the three-digit lifeline area code will change to 988, replacing the current phone number 1-800-273-8255. West Virginians in need of assistance should continue to call 1-800-273-8255 until July 16, 2022. Lifeline is accepting calls from anyone experiencing a suicidal crisis or distress related to Mental Health.

The State Lifeline/988 call center will also begin accepting texts and chats after July 16, 2022.

“988 is the first step in building an accessible crisis system that includes someone to talk to, someone to respond to and a safe place to be,” said Christina Mullins, Commissioner of the Health Office. behavior of the DHHR. “About 75-80% of calls help defuse and provide support without further crisis intervention being required.”

For callers who need additional crisis services (someone to answer or a safe place to be), the state is enhancing its crisis continuum.

Currently, West Virginia has a statewide Mobile Child Crisis Response Service for children and youth up to age 21, available through the Crisis Line and 24/7 Children’s Guidance (844-HELP4WV, https://www.help4wv.com/ccl). Adult crisis intervention services are available in some counties.

“DHHR and its partners are working together to improve West Virginians’ access to the behavioral health crisis services needed to prevent suicide and other harmful outcomes,” Mullins added. “This new grant is helping save lives in our state, where suicide is a leading cause of death for West Virginians ages 10-34 and a leading cause of preventable death across all age groups. .”

Learn more about 988 planning here.

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