HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) —
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is launching a new speed dial option nationwide starting July 16.
Anyone in the United States can call or text 9-8-8 anytime of the day, seven days a week, to receive assistance with a suicide crisis, mental health, and addictions. The line will connect callers with trained crisis counsellors.
People can also call or text 9-8-8 if they’re worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
“What we want is to make it as easy as possible for someone to get help when they need it,” Colleen said. Carr, director of National Action Alliance for Suicide Preventionin a 2022 interview. “It’s not a new network being established. It’s a new way to access that network in a way that’s easier to remember.”
According to Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration, callers will be routed to a local crisis center based on their area code. A trained local counselor will listen, provide support and share resources, if needed. If no one is available at a local crisis centre, the caller will be redirected to a national assistance centre.
If necessary, the call counselor can activate a local mobile mental health crisis team that will be dispatched to the caller to provide therapeutic interventions and make referrals for outpatient services or transportation for further assessment, depending on SAMHSA.
In the United States, 45,979 people died by suicide in 2020. That’s an average of one person every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, 12.2 million adults have thought about suicide, 3.2 million adults planned to commit suicide and 1.2 million adults have attempted suicide.
The creation of 9-8-8 not only helps everyone who lives in America, but it also has the potential to have a significant impact on the active military and veteran community.
“These mental health professionals are trained to help the military population and address the unique issues they face,” said Kristin Wright, violence prevention integrator and suicide prevention program manager at Hanscom Air Base. “Veterans, service members and military families face unique challenges in multiple aspects of their lives.”
If a veteran calls 9-8-8, they have the additional option of being connected to Veteran Crisis Line instead of a local crisis centre. The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential, and secure resource for military members and veterans. Veteran suicide accounted for 6,261 suicides in 2019, which accounted for 13.7% of U.S. adult suicides that year, according to data from the Veterans Administration.
Nearly 600 soldiers, in active service, reservations and National Guarddied by suicide in 2020 according to data provided in the annual suicide report from defense department. The report also shows that 202 military family members died by suicide in 2019.
“The results are troubling. Suicide rates among our military and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a press release in September 2021.
By calling 9-8-8 instead of 9-1-1 when a behavioral or mental health crisis is not life-threatening, the response provided by public services, such as law enforcement and EMS, may be reserved for life-threatening emergencies. needing their help.
“We have a three-digit number for medical emergencies; we need a three-digit number for psychological emergencies – and it is,” said John Draper, executive director of National Suicide. Prevention Lifeline in an interview in 2022.
The Federal Communications Commission requires all telephone service providers in the United States to direct 9-8-8 calls and texts to the existing National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention by July 16. . People will still receive the same services whether they dial 9-8-8 or 1-800-273-8255.
The new 9-8-8 speed dial appeared after the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2020.
“Remembering the digits of a 1-800 number can be taxing, especially during a crisis, but remembering a three-digit number is an easier solution for everyone. The deployment of 9-8-8 allows anyone to receive help not only for suicidal ideation and prevention, but also for substance use and other mental health crises. This is the start of making mental health a priority and reducing the stigma around mental health in our country,” Wright said.
If you are thinking about harming yourself or trying to kill yourself, tell someone right away who can help you. Call your doctor’s office, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or 9-1-1 for emergency services, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.